Criminal proceedings against Jon David Guerrero, now 42, resumed following the verdict by San Diego Superior Court Judge Kenneth So in a mental competency trial that began May 20 and lasted several weeks.
The judge ruled that Guerrero’s attorneys “had not met the burden” of proving that he did not understand court proceedings and their claim he could not assist them in his own defense.
So set a preliminary hearing for Nov. 4, and it is estimated that it will include two weeks of testimony. Guerrero has been housed at Patton State Hospital since proceedings were suspended and he was given various medications to help him regain mental competency.
At the recommendation of Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey, the judge ruled that Guerrero must continue to take anti-psychotic medications to maintain his mental competency.
“He’s a danger to himself and others,” said So, who added he would recommend Guerrero be housed at the psychiatric facility until shortly before the preliminary hearing starts.
Harvey argued that despite a psychiatric finding that Guerrero has chronic schizophrenia, his symptoms can be managed by medication and he is capable of rational conversations.
Harvey said rehab therapists and other employees of Patton State Hospital recalled he was “polite, well mannered, and respectful” of staff. She said Guerrero participated in a mock trial in the hospital in which he testified.
She said Guerrero was given a locker and was able to recall the lock’s combination at Patton. Harvey said Guerrero engaged in a discussion about a “not guilty by reason of insanity plea” with others at Patton. Insanity is a separate issue from mental competency.
Harvey said Guerrero has realized he was delusional at the time of the slayings. She said Guerrero has said at Patton he thought the victims were calling out to him before he attacked them.
His attorney, Danesh Tandon, argued Guerrero had a previous brain injury that resulted in him not ever becoming mentally competent to understand court proceedings.
“He experiences thought blocking. He exhibits delusional thinking,” said Tandon, adding that Guerrero has “audio and visual hallucinations.”
“We keep trying to put Mr. Guerrero into a square hole and it doesn’t fit,” said Tandon, who added that Guerrero has “bizarre thinking and makes odd statements.”
So mentioned a statement by Guerrero who said he wanted to fly into space. He asked Tandon “Why is that odd? A lot of rich people want to fly into space. People have put down hundreds of thousands of dollars to fly into space,” said So.
“His disease is chronic. Mr. Guerrero is not competent to receive a (criminal) trial,” replied Tandon, who added that Guerrero has claimed that someone is planting “microchips in his food” in jail.
Guerrero is charged with plunging a railroad spike into Angelo DeNardo, 53, who was attacked as he slept under the Interstate 5 Bridge near Mission Bay on July 3, 2016. His body was set on fire.
Guerrero is also accused of killing Shawn Longley, 41, in Ocean Beach the next day and Dionicio Vahidy, 23, who was attacked downtown on July 6 and died July 10, 2016.
Guerrero is charged with attempted murder of another homeless man who was left blinded and another attack of a man in the Midway District.
Guerrero was charged in 2017 for the slaying of Molly Simons, 83, who was killed as she walked to a bus stop in North Park. This is the only attack of someone who was not believed to be homeless and was asleep at the time.
Guerrero has pleaded not guilty and waived his right to have a speedy hearing.