Judge rules in mental competency trial of Point Loma killer
by NEAL PUTNAM
Published - 10/26/18 - 01:35 PM | 1178 views | 0 0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Blue tinted monotone image of a gavel and scales of justice
Blue tinted monotone image of a gavel and scales of justice
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A judge ruled Oct. 23 that a former employee charged with killing his boss at a Point Loma auto repair shop in 2011 is not mentally competent for court proceedings.

       A 3-day mental competency trial was held for Nicolas Brito Rosales, 54, who is charged with fatally shooting Jalal (Joe) Abou, 63, at Joe's Auto Repair in the 1900 block of Rosecrans Street on April 19, 2011.

        Attorneys presented competing mental health experts as to whether Rosales could understand court proceedings and whether he was too delusional to assist in his own defense.

       San Diego Superior Court Judge Laura Halgren found he could not assist his attorney, Brian Schmidt, and attorneys were ordered to return to court Nov. 6 for placement as to where Rosales could be sent to recover his mental competency. Most people found incompetent are sent to a state psychiatric hospital and treated with medications until they are found competent.

        Criminal proceedings still remain suspended and Rosales has not even had his preliminary hearing. He was extradited from Mexico on Sept. 12, 2017, and remains in jail without bail.

        Schmidt told Halgren he wanted Rosales to have a neurological exam. Rosales has told doctors that he had been struck by lightening in the head and had trouble with his memory, according to testimony.

        Halgren noted the testimony of Rosales' daughter as credible in which she talked about her father having delusions even before the shooting took place.  The judge criticized one doctor for not spending much time with Rosales.

        Deputy District Attorney Oscar Hagstrom argued Rosales was mentally competent.  He said one doctor saw Rosales six times in jail and did not believe he had substantial delusions. Hagstrom said Rosales had average intelligence and was sophisticated.

        Schmidt said Rosales told him his daughter was a born in a test tube. Schmidt said Rosales thought people were "coming to get him" even before the shooting occurred and he often varied his driving to prevent people from following him.

        Jorge Duran, who is now a DA investigator, testified he was a San Diego Police captain and was present when Rosales was turned over to police officers in a wheelchair. Duran said Rosales told him he was beaten in a Mexican prison and could not walk for awhile.

         Duran said Rosales claimed to have been struck by lightning and his memory was affected. Duran also said Rosales wanted to read the warrant for his arrest and Duran gave it to him. He said Rosales also said he wanted an attorney before answering any questions.

          Dr. Sanjay Rao, a psychiatrist at a county hospital, testified Rosales said he was struck by lighting and could not recall much, so he conducted a memory test. Rao said he found Rosales had no memory issues, and believed he was mentally competent.

          Rao said he disagreed with defense psychiatrists who concluded Rosales was not competent. The other doctors "are just as competent as I am" in determining competency and they may have used other methods. 

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