SAN DIEGO (CN) – A judge determined Wednesday that the man accused of killing homeless San Diegans in a murder spree last summer remains mentally incompetent to stand trial, putting the criminal case against him on hold.
Jon David Guerrero, clad in a green prison jumpsuit with what looked to be a bandage wrapped around his left wrist, appeared before San Diego Superior Court Judge Margie Woods Wednesday to get the results of a mental competency exam.
Guerrero remains incompetent to stand trial, according to a report by state-appointed Dr. Matthew Carol, Woods said. Carol also found Guerrero needed to be involuntarily medicated in order to receive proper dosages of anti-psychotic medication.
However, the doctor found if Guerrero received the proper medication he’d likely have competency restored and be able to stand trial.
Guerrero will either be treated in the San Diego Central Jail or be transported back to Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino County. His commitment will last up to three years or until competency is restored.
Guerrero is charged with four counts of murder, three counts of attempted premeditated murder, two counts of arson for setting the bodies of two homicide victims on fire, and five counts of arson.
He could face the death penalty if convicted. Guerrero pleaded not guilty to the charges in April.
The attacks on homeless San Diegans gained media attention over the Fourth of July holiday weekend in 2016, when two men were killed and another was attacked with a railroad spike and survived.
A preliminary hearing in the case was scheduled for earlier this month, but was pushed back and eventually vacated after the issue of Guerrero’s competency was raised.
Criminal proceedings in the case were suspended July 14, following an email from Carol saying he believed Guerrero was incompetent. Two reports formally confirmed Guerrero’s incompetency at Wednesday’s hearing.
But Guerrero’s attorneys, public defenders Dan Tandon and Whitney Antrim, did not stipulate to an expanded request by Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey that Guerrero be involuntarily medicated immediately, no matter where he is ultimately held.
Harvey said in a phone interview that while the judge-ordered involuntary medications are authorized, there could be a “lag time” between Guerrero receiving his anti-psychotic medications before he is sent back to Patton. She said defendants can wait up to 60 days before beds become available at Patton and that Guerrero might not receive his medications in jail in the meantime.
“For now, I was trying to make it happen sooner whereas not taking medications wasn’t an issue before,” Harvey said.
“Now we’re in a little bit of a different position. From the People’s perspective, we want him to be medicated as soon as possible so as to expedite his finding of competency.”
The attorneys were asked to file briefs, and a hearing on the matter is scheduled for Sept. 11.