The murder trial of a transient man suspected of bludgeoning his victim to death in a Costa Mesa driveway is on hold while the court determines whether he’s 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, of Costa Mesa two days earlier.
On Thursday, an Orange County Superior Court commissioner appointed two mental-health professionals to assess Leovy.
Leovy’s attorney, Joel Tamraz, asked for the evaluation in November after he started having doubts about his client’s mental state.
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.
The lawyer enlisted Leovy’s uncle to help communicate with the suspect. “He said his uncle keeps getting bigger and smaller,” said Tamraz, moving his hand up and down to indicate a change in height.
After an examination, a private doctor suggested 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 mentally fit.
Police have said they believe Leovy, a Los Angeles resident, stayed in a sober-living home in Costa Mesa but then became homeless.
Leovy allegedly had a disagreement with Kubat, a handyman, in the driveway of a three-unit housing complex that he was remodeling on Hamilton Street.
Police say that’s when Leovy killed him, using a heavy, blunt object that investigators have declined to identify.
Leovy pleaded not guilty Sept 18 to charges of murder and battery on a police officer. He has been held in Orange County Jail in lieu of $1-million bail since.
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.”