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SANTA ANA : Slaying Suspect Found Mentally Competent

A judge ruled Friday that Edward Patrick Morgan Jr. is mentally competent to stand trial next year on charges that he sexually assaulted and murdered a woman outside an Orange nightclub last year.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard L. Weatherspoon made his ruling after reviewing reports by two psychiatrists who evaluated Morgan, a 28-year-old Orange bodybuilding enthusiast.

“Both doctors concluded that he was competent to stand trial,” said Julian W. Bailey, Morgan’s defense lawyer.

Weatherspoon set a Jan. 16 trial date and urged Morgan to cooperate fully with Bailey in preparing the case, which could send the defendant to Death Row.

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“You should do your very best to furnish your attorney with all information possible to mitigate the circumstance,” Weatherspoon said. “The result that could follow is the ultimate result--the death penalty.”

Morgan, who has maintained his innocence, nodded as he sat shackled at the defense table. He wore an orange jail jumpsuit.

Morgan is accused of killing 23-year-old Leanora Annette Wong, a Huntington Beach woman who first met Morgan at the club on the night of her May 20, 1994, slaying. Wong’s mutilated body was found in a parking lot near the club. She had been raped with a foreign object, authorities said.

Morgan, who has a history of sexual assaults, was linked to the crime through fingerprints, witnesses who saw him with Wong and a videotape from a security camera mounted on a nearby building. Bailey says that Morgan is not the man shown on the videotape.

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Morgan was arrested in Northern California after a weeklong manhunt.

The case created an outcry when it was revealed that Morgan had escaped the most serious charges in nearly all his previous sexual assaults cases.


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