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A Chippewa County woman accused of fatally stabbing a man in the town of Spring Brook in March intends to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, according to court records.

Ezra J. McCandless, 21, of 36794 25th Ave., was charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the stabbing death of Alexander L. Woodworth, 24, of Eau Claire.

Authorities found Woodworth, deceased and stabbed 16 times, in a vehicle parked on a farm road in Spring Brook on March 23, according to a criminal complaint. McCandless told authorities Woodworth had attacked her and carved the word “boy” into her arm, but she took the knife from him and stabbed him multiple times, according to the complaint.

McCandless previously pleaded not guilty.

She wishes to change her plea to not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, her attorney Aaron Nelson of Hudson-based Nelson Defense Group said in a Oct. 31 letter to Dunn County Judge James Peterson, according to court records.

In May, according to an evaluation from a clinical psychologist, McCandless underwent a competency exam — and was declared mentally fit to stand trial, Peterson said at a May status conference.

Peterson ordered McCandless’ mental health reports to be sealed at a Nov. 20 hearing.

An oral ruling Dec. 3 and a motion hearing Feb. 7 are her last court dates before a jury trial scheduled for April 2-22.

As of Monday, McCandless was in custody at the Dunn County Jail, held on a $250,000 cash bond.

About the case

Around 4:15 p.m. on March 22, law enforcement received a call from Don Sipple, who lives on the E7600 block near the scene. A young woman, muddy, bloody, in torn clothes and wearing no shoes, had come to Sipple’s house, according to the complaint.

The woman, described as upset and crying, was taken to a Mayo Clinic Health System hospital in Eau Claire where she was later identified as Ezra McCandless, according to the complaint.

At the scene, authorities found a folding pocket knife, foot tracks in the snow and the back cover of a cell phone.

Dunn County Sgt. Scott McRoberts testified he saw the word “boy” carved into her left arm, punctures on her inner groin and upper right thigh and scratches on one hand.

The angle of the wounds indicated they could be self-inflicted, according to a doctor who examined McCandless on March 22, and the letters carved in her left arm were oriented for her to look at. McCandless admitted to medical staff that she has self-harmed in the past, according to the complaint.

McCandless admitted to being at Woodworth’s home and said they left to go to Owen Park in Eau Claire, where she claimed Woodworth attacked her and cut “boy” into her arm, according to the complaint.

On March 23, investigators saw a muddy road leading off to the south of 430th Avenue near Sipple’s home.

One investigator found a single set of bare footprints in the mud and tire tracks leading up the road.

The detectives found McCandless’s 2003 Chevy Impala up the road. The driver’s side rear door was standing open and a Woodworth was lying partially out the door, according to the complaint.

On March 24, McCandless told investigators she drove to Woodworth’s house to return some things to him. They wanted to talk with each other, and McCandless said they ended up on a dirt road in Dunn County where they got stuck in the mud, according to the complaint.

She said Woodworth attacked her in the vehicle, but she was able to take the blade from Woodworth and admitted to stabbing him “anywhere and everywhere,” according to the complaint.

McCandless later said she cut the word into her arm after she stabbed Woodworth.

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Dunn County News editor

Sarah Seifert edits and reports for the Dunn County News. Contact her with tips or story ideas at 715-450-1557 or at editor@dunnconnect.com.

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