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Man accused in deadly attacks on San Diego homeless incompetent to stand trial, judge says

Man accused in deadly attacks on San Diego homeless incompetent to stand trial, judge says
San Diego police detain Jon David Guerrero on Laurel Street and Horton Avenue on July 15. He was later arrested and charged in attacks on five homeless men, including three who died. (San Diego News Video)

A man accused of killing three homeless men and injuring two others is mentally incompetent to stand trial, a San Diego judge ruled Friday.

Jon David Guerrero, 39, will be sent to a state hospital in San Bernardino County until his doctors determine that competency has been restored.

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Meanwhile, his criminal case will remain suspended.

Superior Court Judge Steven Stone made the ruling after reviewing a psychological evaluation completed by Dr. Matthew Carroll, a psychiatrist in San Diego.

Carroll was not able to question Guerrero in person, despite two attempts in September and October, because the defendant repeatedly refused to be interviewed.

The doctor made his recommendations based on a review of police and medical records, including documentation of Guerrero's "extensive mental health issues," Deputy Public Defender Dan Tandon said.

Based on Carroll's recommendation, the judge also authorized doctors to administer anti-psychotic medications to Guerrero involuntarily if needed.

The defendant is accused of committing violent attacks on five homeless men over a 12-day period in July. He was arrested shortly after a pair of officers in Golden Hill encountered the last victim, who was screaming in pain.

The first victim, Angelo DeNardo, was found early July 3 under a freeway bridge in Bay Park. A railroad spike had been driven into the 53-year-old's head and chest. He was then lighted on fire, Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey said.

A second man was found critically injured in the Midway District on July 4. He had a railroad spike driven into his sinus cavity. He survived his injuries, but was rendered blind, Harvey has said.

Shawn Mitchell Longley was found dead in Ocean Beach on July 4; Derek Vahidy, who was injured on July 6 but died later; and a final victim, found screaming and bloodied on July 15, each were injured with a railroad spike, the prosecutor said.

When Guerrero was arrested, police found a mallet and railroad spikes in his backpack, along with identification belonging to two of the victims, authorities said. A bucket that contained rocks, railroad ties and more spikes was found in his downtown apartment.

Guerrero faces three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder. Because he has been deemed mentally incompetent for trial, it means he is unable to understand the court proceedings and assist in his own defense.

The judge ordered the defendant to be sent to Patton State Hospital for a maximum of three years. If Guerrero's mental competency is restored sooner than that, his criminal case would resume.

Twitter: @danalittlefield

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