Ventura County Superior Court Judge Brian Back concluded Monday that a man accused of killing a computer software executive in January is not mentally competent to stand trial and should be institutionalized for psychiatric treatment.
The ruling follows exams by two court-appointed doctors who found that Mikhail Khaimchayev, 29, is mentally ill and unable to participate in his own defense.
After the hearing, Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Holmes said psychiatric treatment will delay the court proceedings but not end them.
Khaimchayev is expected to be admitted to Patten State Hospital in San Bernardino County. Once doctors there deem that he is capable of assisting in his defense, Khaimchayev would be sent back to Ventura County to stand trial.
But lawyers were uncertain when that might occur.
"He is overtly psychotic at the present time," Holmes said. "It could be a number of years before he is restored."
Criminal defendants deemed mentally incompetent can be held in a state hospital for the period of time they would have served in state prison if convicted, Holmes said.
In Khaimchayev's case, that could be for life.
But psychiatric treatment and medication typically can stabilize a defendant within a year, Holmes said. State psychiatrists are expected to send evaluations of Khaimchayev's mental condition to prosecutors and defense attorneys every six months.
Deputy Public Defender Howard Asher requested a mental competency hearing two months ago after telling Judge Edward Brodie he doubted that his client was capable of understanding court proceedings.
A computer programmer, Khaimchayev is charged with the Jan. 13 workplace shooting of Sheldon Snyder, 36, the owner of Postal Innovations.
Prosecutors say he walked into the software firm's Camarillo offices and shot Snyder nine times, then shot himself in the abdomen. Khaimchayev was hospitalized for several weeks in critical condition.
Khaimchayev had been fired a few weeks before the shooting.