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Man accused of bludgeoning handyman to death to be evaluated

Crime, Law and JusticeLaw EnforcementCrimeHomicideCourts and the JudiciaryOrange County Superior Court

The murder trial of a homeless man accused of bludgeoning a handyman to death in a Costa Mesa driveway is on hold while the court determines whether the defendant is mentally competent.

Christopher Leovy, 34, has been behind bars since Sept. 11, when Costa Mesa police arrested him on suspicion of killing John Kubat, 54, two days earlier.

On Thursday, an Orange County Superior Court commissioner appointed two mental-health professionals to assess Leovy. His attorney, Joel Tamraz, asked for the evaluation in November after he started having doubts about his client's mental state, the Daily Pilot reported.

According to Tamraz, Leovy was confused about what year or month it was and had hallucinations that sometimes included an inability to recognize his lawyer.

"He says that my face continues to change," Tamraz said.

After an examination, a private doctor suggested that Leovy was paranoid and schizophrenic, Tamraz said.

If the court determines Leovy is competent, the trial will continue. If not, Leovy could be held at a treatment facility until he's deemed mentally fit.

Police have said they believe that Leovy, a Los Angeles resident, stayed in a sober-living home in Costa Mesa but then became homeless. Authorities said they believe he had a disagreement with Kubat, a handyman, in the driveway of a three-unit housing complex that Kubat was remodeling on Hamilton Street.

Police say that's when Leovy killed Kubat, using a heavy, blunt object that investigators have declined to identify.

On Sept. 18, Leovy pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and battery on a police officer. He has remained in custody at Orange County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

Meanwhile, Tamraz said he hasn't been able to hear Leovy's version of events or find out how he ended up in Costa Mesa.

"It's very difficult to get anything meaningful out of him," Tamraz said. "It's a sad case.

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jeremiah.dobruck@latimes.com

Twitter: @JeremiahDobruck

Jeremiah Dobruck is a Times Community News staff writer.

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