SAN DIEGO (CN) – A San Diego deputy district attorney told a judge at a hearing Wednesday morning that competency has been restored for the man accused of targeting San Diego’s growing homeless population in a murder spree last summer.
Jon David Guerrero was present at the hearing, wearing a green jumpsuit. He was transferred from Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino County to San Diego Central Jail on Jan. 19 and is being held without bail, according to jail records.
Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey told Superior Court Judge Margie Woods that a doctor at Patton State Hospital found Guerrero’s competency had been restored. Guerrero was found mentally incompetent to stand trial last October, after he refused to answer a doctor’s questions when a mental exam was ordered during court proceedings.
Guerrero’s public defender Dan Tandon requested Woods continue the competency exam and also requested a date be set for a competency trial in the event his client disputes the competency finding and requests a second opinion.
Tandon did not indicate to reporters outside the courtroom whether Guerrero would ask to be reevaluated by another doctor, however.
The 39-year-old Guerrero is accused of killing three homeless men and attacking two others in a series of attacks that started over the Fourth of July weekend last year.
Police investigators recently revealed Guerrero is also suspected of killing 83-year-old Molly Simons who was apparently hit on the head and knocked unconscious July 13, two days before Guerrero was arrested, according to a report by The San Diego Union Tribune.
Simons, unlike Guerrero’s other victims, was not homeless. She died in the hospital about two weeks after suffering a serious head injury sustained in the attack.
Police did not say what led them to suspect Guerrero in her death, according to the Union Tribune.
Guerrero is accused of using railroad spikes to attack homeless men late at night or in the early morning hours as they were sleeping in public spaces.
He has yet to be arraigned on three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder, along with a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders. But that could change now he’s been found mentally competent to stand trial. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
Most of the men were attacked in or near downtown San Diego.
The first victim, 53-year-old Angelo De Nardo, had railroad spikes driven completely through his head and chest before his body was set on fire near train tracks in the Clairemont neighborhood.
The second victim, Manuel Mason, 61, survived an early-morning attack. A railroad spike was driven completely through his nasal cavity and he is now blind, according to Harvey.
Other victims were also found dead or injured with railroad spikes left next to them.
Guerrero was arrested July 15 after Harbor Police officers responded to calls of a man who was attacked near downtown. At the time of Guerrero’s arrest, he had a backpack and hat that matched those captured by a convenience store surveillance camera shortly before De Nardo’s body was found on fire, according to Harvey.
The backpack contained identification of some of the victims, a metal-headed mallet and three railroad spikes, Harvey said.
Guerrero returns to court Feb. 22.