Is Murder Suspect Jorge Banda Competent to Stand Trial?

April 16, 2008 9:11:23 PM PDT
A heated argument in a south Valley courtroom in the trial of the man accused of killing a Tulare County Sheriff's Deputy.Doctors revealed whether murder suspect Jorge Banda is competent to stand trial.

On Wednesday, a judge revealed two court-appointed doctors who evaluated Jorge Banda say he is mentally capable to stand trial. His attorney disagrees.

Neal Pedowitz, Jorge Banda's Attorney: "I believe he's #1 incompetent #2 mentally retarded and #3 he suffers from grave mental health issues."

Pedowitz says a private psychologist evaluated Banda and deemed him "developmentally disabled." Jorge Banda is accused of shooting to death Tulare County Sheriff's Detective Kent Haws while he was investigating a suspicious vehicle north of Ivanhoe last December. If Banda is deemed competent, he faces murder charges and the death penalty if he's convicted. Banda's attorney was ordered to hand over his private doctors' reports to the court. The hearing got heated when prosecutors complained they haven't received them.

David Alavezos, Prosecutor: "I'm going to want notes and raw scores and things like that so I can evaluate him. Neal Pedowitz: Oh gee I want the same thing from the court ordered psychologist."

Pedowitz says reports by the private doctor he hired don't exist. Judge Darryl Ferguson tried to ease prosecutors' concerns that the defense is trying to delay the trial.

Darryl Ferguson, Judge: "We're talking about the death penalty here. We're not talking about parking tickets."

On Wednesday, judge Ferguson told Pedowitz several times to hand over the private doctor's reports that show Banda is developmentally disabled.

Judge Ferguson: "One more time Mr Pedowitz I am ordering you to provide the reports from your doctor to Mr Alaevezos. If you refuse to do that we will not have a hearing. We will go forward on these two doctors' reports and you'll have to live fall on these two reports now are you going to provide those reports to Mr. Alavezos?"

The defense ultimately agreed to hand over a report to the prosecution by next month. In the meantime, prosecutors say Kent Haws family is looking forward to the case going to trial.

In August, a jury will decide if Jorge Banda is competent to stand trial. At the same time, the judge will determine if he thinks Banda is developmentally disabled.

Someone who is developmentally disabled is not eligible for the death penalty.


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