DA: Garrido competency trial can’t be moved
PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) – A Northern California prosecutor is trying to keep the upcoming competency hearing for the man charged with kidnapping and raping Jaycee Dugard from being moved to another county.
California law requires pretrial proceedings in criminal cases to be conducted in their originating jurisdictions, El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said in court papers posted Wednesday in which he also proposed instructions for the jury he wants to convene to decide the competency question.
“The people adamantly oppose any change of venue of the competency trial in this matter,” Pierson said.
A hearing to determine if 59-year-old Phillip Garrido, who along with his wife, Nancy, has been charged with kidnapping Dugard and holding her captive for 18 years, is mentally fit to stand trial is scheduled to start on Feb. 28. A judge set the proceedings after Garrido’s public defender expressed doubts about her client’s ability to participate in his own defense.
Garrido’s lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Susan Gellman, has said she might ask to have the hearing transferred to another county because the case has gotten so much publicity, but has until Jan. 26 to formally move for a change of venue. Gellman did not immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment Wednesday.
Three court-appointed psychiatrists have evaluated Garrido and their findings and testimony are expected to provide much of the evidence the jury will hear before it reaches a verdict.
According to the instructions Pierson has prepared, jurors will be told to rule that Garrido is well enough to be tried if he meet three conditions: understands the nature and purpose of the proceedings against him, can rationally assist his lawyer in preparing a defense, and is able to comprehend his place in the criminal process.