Matthew VanZandt

Matthew VanZandt

A man accused of fatally stabbing his boyfriend to death in Lancaster Township in March did not want to undergo a competency evaluation recommended by his defense attorney, so he fired him.

Matthew VanZandt, 30, allegedly stabbed his boyfriend, 31-year-old Ian Shannon, on March 6 in the home where they lived in the 400 block of Dickens Drive.

VanZandt was charged with homicide and retained a private defense attorney, James Swetz of Monroe County. Swetz arranged for a competency evaluation May 29, but VanZandt refused to go to the appointment, according to a court filing.

In a July 9 call to Lancaster County prison, Swetz told VanZandt it was in his best interest to have a competency evaluation.

But VanZandt discharged Swetz as his attorney, so Swetz filed a motion to withdraw as counsel. Under court laws in Pennsylvania, a lawyer must formally withdraw if a client no longer wants his services.

Judge Merill Spahn Jr. approved of the motion at a hearing Friday and said he would appoint a public defender to represent VanZandt.

VanZandt's options are to work with that attorney or represent himself, Spahn said.

"It is in your best interest to have someone represent you," Spahn said.

Nearly two dozen spectators were in the courtroom gallery for Friday’s proceeding.

Shannon's parents and Swetz declined to comment after the hearing.