A Municipal Court judge Tuesday temporarily suspended murder charges against fired postal worker Mark Hilbun and ordered a hearing to determine if he is mentally competent to stand trial.
The 39-year-old Dana Point man has been charged with murdering his mother and then a former co-worker at the Dana Point Post Office during a two-day rampage in May.
Five other people were wounded in that incident and three other attacks, and Hilbun has also been charged with those shootings.
A preliminary hearing to determine if there was enough evidence to try Hilbun was scheduled for Tuesday. But his attorney requested that the hearing and all other criminal proceedings be suspended until a Superior Court judge decides if Hilbun is mentally competent to assist with his defense.
Hilbun had worked at the post office nearly four years before he was fired in December, in part for stalking a female employee. Police said he went to the post office that day to kidnap her. She was not hurt in the shooting.
Municipal Court Judge Pamela L. Iles scheduled the competency hearing for next Tuesday in Superior Court. At least two experts will testify to Hilbun's inability to stand trial, said Deputy Public Defender David Biggs.
Appearing in court briefly Tuesday, Hilbun looked haggard and disoriented as he walked with apparent discomfort around a wired jail cell. His hair was disheveled and his previously cleanshaven face sported a full beard.
In an interview outside court, Biggs said Hilbun is mentally unstable as indicated by an "intentional" fall from a second-story walkway in Orange County Jail last month.
Hilbun broke a vertebra and suffered a concussion in the June 21, incident, which happened while he was out of his cell for his daily recreational break.
After a two-week stay at a hospital, he returned to the jail Friday and is being monitored daily by the medical staff.
"Someone leaping from a second floor . . . and didn't break the fall with his hands but instead landed on his head . . . indicates to me that that individual is not mentally competent," Biggs said. "He didn't slip; he did that intentionally."
Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard King, who is prosecuting the case, declined to comment on Hilbun's mental condition, saying only: "Under the law, he is presumed competent."
King said his office has yet to make a decision on whether to seek the death penalty.
Biggs has said that he is considering an insanity defense but emphasized Tuesday that the competency hearing is only to determine if a defendant is fit to stand trial and does not address the sanity issue.
If a judge concludes that Hilbun is mentally incompetent, he would probably be sent to a state facility pending the results of future competency hearings.
If Hilbun is determined to be mentally competent to stand trial, he will return to court for a preliminary hearing.
Police believe Hilbun stabbed his mother to death in her Corona del Mar home on May 6, then drove to the Dana Point Post Office and shot a fellow postal carrier to death and wounded another.
Hilbun eluded police for two days, during which he allegedly shot and wounded at least four more people in three attacks in Dana Point, Newport Beach and Fountain Valley.
He was arrested peacefully while watching television in a Huntington Beach sports bar shortly after midnight May 8.