A judge ruled Tuesday that a mixed-martial artist accused of murdering and mutilating his friend in 2010 is mentally competent to stand trial. After reviewing evaluations by a pair of psychiatrists, Del Norte County Superior Court Judge William Follett determined Jarrod Gaylen Wyatt is both capable of understanding the criminal proceedings against him and of assisting his attorney in mounting his defense. Follett consequently reinstated criminal proceedings in the case, setting a Sept. 10 trial date. Wyatt, 27, was arrested at a residence in Klamath in the early morning hours of March 21, 2010, and stands accused of killing Taylor Powell, 21, by ripping his still-beating heart from his chest after gruesomely beating and torturing Powell, his friend and sparring partner. Having pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of murder and special circumstance allegations of mayhem and torture, Wyatt faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. Follett suspended criminal proceedings in the case in January after a defense expert, Dr. Robert Soper, submitted a report to the court stating that Wyatt was currently incompetent to stand trial because he lacked understanding of the court proceedings. The judge then ordered a pair of additional evaluations of the defendant, both of which determined he may be ignorant of trial procedure but is mentally competent, according to Del Norte District Attorney Jon Alexander. After hearing a brief argument from Alexander at a hearing Tuesday morning, Follett decided to reinstate the proceedings, clearing the way for Wyatt to stand trial. ”Judge Follett made the correct ruling on the issue of competency,” Alexander said in an e-mail to the Times-Standard after Tuesday's hearing. “I look forward to trial and obtaining justice for Taylor Powell and his family.” Wyatt's attorney, James Fallman, also said he agreed with Follett's determination that Wyatt is currently competent. ”He's been better lately,” Fallman said, adding that he didn't see the need to demand a jury trial to determine the competency issue. If Follett had ruled that Wyatt was mentally incompetent, the defendant would have been remanded to a mental institution, where specialists would have tried to prepare him to stand trial in a process that could entail anything from medication to tutoring him on the legal system. According to court records, Del Norte County sheriff's deputies and Yurok Tribal Police arrived at a home near the mouth of the Klamath River on March 21, 2010, to find Wyatt naked and covered in blood from head to toe. Wyatt told the officers “I killed him,” according to the documents, and said he'd cut out Powell's heart and tongue. After a search of the residence, officers reported finding Powell dead on the couch, with his chest cut open and his heart, tongue and the skin of his face removed. An autopsy determined that the organs had been removed while Powell was still alive, and what was later determined to be Powell's heart was found charred in a wood-burning stove in the residence, according to Dr. Neil Kushner, who performed the autopsy. Testimony at a hearing to determine if there was enough evidence in the case to hold Wyatt to stand trial indicated Wyatt and Powell had ingested psychedelic mushroom tea that night. Witnesses said the pair became preoccupied with the idea that a tidal wave was coming, that the end of the world was upon them and that a struggle between God and the devil was taking place.  Upon his arrest, Wyatt reportedly told deputies that he had been fighting the devil. The criminal case against Wyatt has progressed slowly, in part because Alexander dismissed the original charges against him and refilled the case shortly after his election in November 2010 in order to seek a potential sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. As the case was filed by Alexander's predecessor, Wyatt faced a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison if convicted of all charges. The refilling sent the case back almost to square one, and necessitated another preliminary hearing to determine if prosecutors had enough evidence to hold Wyatt to stand trial on the capital murder charge. ”The Powell family was initially told that Jarrod Wyatt would not be paroled back to the streets a free man,” Alexander said. “I'm truly sorry we had to do the hearing over, but I intend on keeping that promise to them.” Thadeus Greenson can be reached at 441-0509 or <a href='mailto:tgreenson@times-standard.com'>tgreenson@times-standard.com&;lt;/a>.