Jorge Banda's Sanity Hearing

August 18, 2008 8:09:33 PM PDT
The sanity trial for a south valley man accused of killing a Tulare County Sheriff's Deputy will soon be in the jury's hands.Jorge Banda's attorney says his client is not competent to stand trial for killing detective Kent Haws back in December.

The defense's last witness of the trial took the stand. He is a privately hired psychologist from San Diego who believes Jorge Banda is not only mentally retarded and not competent to stand trial, but psychotic.

Attorneys on both sides agree that 20-year old Jorge Banda shot and killed Sheriff's Detective Ken Haws while haws was investigating a suspicious vehicle north of Ivanhoe in December 2007. But whether he was sane when he committed the crime is where they differ.

It's now up to 12 jurors to determine whether Jorge Banda will be sent to a mental institution or go to trial for murdering the deputy and possibly face the death penalty.

Neal Pedowitz, Jorge Banda's attorney: "What happens is he hears voices and it distracts him from paying attention and when he can pay attention for a moment or so that's when the retardation becomes a problem."

Banda's attorney Neal Pedowitz hired psychologist Ricardo Weinstein to examine Jorge Banda. On the witness stand, Weinstein said: "I believe Jorge Banda is mentally retarded because he has sub-average function. No, I don't believe he is competent."

Pedowitz: "Why is he not competent not stand trial?

Dr. Weinstein: "Because he suffers mental disease or disorder. I believe its likely schizophrenia but we don't have all the information."

Pedowitz said Dr. Weinstein is being paid $200 an hour to testify in court and was also paid to examine Banda. Prosecutors disagree with Weinstein's analysis.

Don Gallion, Dep DA: "He's paid for by the defense, surprise! He comes in with testimony to support the defense! The other witnesses are neutral court appointed doctors and they all came back and said that he's competent."

Prosecutors expect to bring two to three witness to the stand Tuesday. They're expected to play Jorge Banda's confession tape where he details to officers how and why he shot Detective Kent Haws. Then it will be up to the jury to decide Banda's competency.

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