Ex-student charged with deadly string of stabbings near California university is mentally unfit for trial

The criminal case against a former Northern California university student accused of several stabbings is on hold

Janie Har
Tuesday 08 August 2023 16:02 BST
California Serial Stabbings
California Serial Stabbings (The Sacramento Bee)

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The criminal case against a former Northern California university student accused of several stabbings is on hold after prosecutors agreed that he is incompetent to stand trial for charges related to the attacks, which killed two people, wounded a third and terrorized a peaceful college town.

The judge dismissed jurors in Carlos Dominguez’s competency trial Monday, which would have been the fifth day of testimony, after county prosecutors informed the court last week they no longer planned to fight the defense by Dominguez’s attorney that he was not mentally fit for trial.

A determination of incompetency means Mr Dominguez cannot currently understand court proceedings, assist his attorney in his defence and understand his own status in the criminal proceeding.

Yolo Superior Court Judge Samuel McAdam last week ordered the defendant to receive medication over Mr Dominguez's objections, ruling he was a danger to himself and others without it. Three medical experts testified that Mr Dominguez is schizophrenic.

Mr Dominguez will go to a state hospital when a bed becomes available and once his competency is restored, the criminal trial will resume, said Jonathan Raven, the county's chief deputy district attorney.

Mr Raven said in an email Monday that prosecutors disagreed with the initial doctor's report and how she reached her conclusions regarding Mr Dominguez's competency. Prosecutors previously said Mr Dominguez was “toying with the system” and should face a criminal trial.

They dropped their challenge after hearing new information at trial and the court's order to initiate involuntary medication proceedings, Mr Raven said.

Dominguez had been a third-year student at the University of California, Davis majoring in biological sciences until 25 April, when he was expelled. Stabbings near campus began shortly after. He is charged in the deaths of a 50-year-old homeless man and a 20-year-old UC Davis student. A homeless woman who was attacked in her tent survived.

The attacks terrified the community. Businesses closed early and some students were too scared to attend even daytime classes as their parents pleaded with them to return home.

Mr Dominguez was arrested 4 May, a week after the first body was found, near the location of the second attack.

Mr Dominguez was in court Monday wearing a green safety vest. Previously he has spoken out loud to say he was guilty and wanted to apologize and that he did not want an attorney.

His appointed attorney Dan Hutchinson, a Yolo County deputy public defender, said in court that Mr Dominguez would not eat, shower or speak much while in jail. He still believed he was a student at UC Davis and insisted he was not ill, his lawyer said.

It is unclear if Mr Dominguez is 20 or 21 years old. The prosecutor's office says official records list different dates of birth.

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