A death penalty trial had been set in April for Shaun Douglas Ward, 41, who is charged with stabbing Diane Spaguolo, 65, over 60 times while she worked at the X-Spot adult bookstore at 3600 Midway Drive.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Joan Weber was required to suspend proceedings because of his attorney’s doubts and she appointed a psychologist to examine Ward in jail.
A hearing before another judge was set for March 18. A similar proceeding occurred in 2019 when Ward was found to be mentally competent.
At issue is Ward’s muteness, which was an issue when he was first arraigned in 2018 and declined to say a word in response to questions from a judge. A not guilty plea had to be entered on his behalf.
Deputy District Attorney Melissa Vasel said Ward is “selectively mute” and that he talks to his mother when she visits him in jail.
“Mr. Ward is manipulating the system,” said Vasel, who added that deputies working in the jail have noted no delusional behavior and he has not refused to take medication.
His attorney, David Thompson, told Weber that he didn’t know if his client understood what was going on.
Ward appeared on a video screen from the George Bailey Detention Facility. The hearing was broadcast online because the courts are partially closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
As the hearing ended, Thompson said, “Hang in there, Shaun.” Ward then spoke, and replied “OK.”
Ward is charged with two special circumstances charges that allege he killed the woman during a robbery and during torture. The DA’s office announced in 2019 they would seek the death penalty if he was convicted of first-degree murder.
A detective testified in 2019 that she searched Ward’s home and found $300 in cash with blood on it in Ward’s wallet which was also stained with blood.
The victim’s daughter, Alexis Wylie, told a reporter her mother was a kind person who also worked at the Goodwill thrift store for many years.