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Doctor: Murder suspect not competent to stand trial
VISALIA — A doctor has found a Porterville man accused of killing his ex-wife in August 2011 incompetent to stand trial.
The doctor’s findings on Emigdio Ojeda’s mental capacity were reported Tuesday in Tulare County Superior Court with Judge Joseph Kalashian presiding.
A jury will ultimately determine if Ojeda is competent to stand trial.
The 49-year-old Ojeda asked a courtroom bailiff to be moved from the jury box, occupied by other defendants, to a lone chair in a corner; practically concealing him from the audience.
During court proceedings, Ojeda appeared to doze off at times. He also wiped off tears and lightly thumped his head against the jury box multiple times.
The court had previously expressed a doubt as to Ojeda’s competence and eventually suspended criminal proceedings and appointed a doctor to evaluate him, said Anthony Fultz, deputy district attorney with the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.
Tuesday’s hearing was to make sure all parties received the doctor’s report and had an opportunity to review it, Fultz added.
“His opinion states he is not competent to stand trial, we disagree with that,” Fultz said, adding that he couldn’t comment as to why for risk of tainting a potential jury pool.
Ojeda is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the slaying of 48-year-old Flor Sanchez of Porterville on Aug. 2, 2011.
That day, Ojeda allegedly shot Sanchez at her house on the corner of Mulberry Avenue and Woods Street, according to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department.
He then fled the scene and barricaded himself in his house, located just a block away on the corner of Henderson Avenue and Woods Street. Sheriff’s deputies and officers with the Porterville Police Department’s SWAT team tried to talk Ojeda out until he surrendered a couple of hours later.
Sanchez was home for lunch when she was shot in her front yard. Paramedics performed CPR on Sanchez and she was rushed to Sierra View District Hospital, where she later died.
She was a mother of three and worked for Community Services and Employment Training in Porterville for about 7 years.
Sanchez’s daughter, three sisters, father, brothers-in-law, and son-in-law attended Tuesday’s hearing.
After the meeting, the small group gathered outside the courtroom to speak with the case’s prosecuting attorney, Jill Icenhower.
Sister Linda Romero said she was saddened by the turn of events.
“I think it’s real sad that we have to play this game that he’s making us play,” she said.
“He’s claiming incompetency when there should be no incompetency. We’re talking about somebody who went through the Porterville public school system, played competitive sports, graduated, was involved in three relationships; two of which produced children, paid child support, owned a business, had employees working under him, owned property and now he’s incompetent.”
A jury trial setting is scheduled for March 12.
“We’re patient and we’re going to be here every step of the way, we’re not going away,” Romero said. “I want to see justice done.”
Contact Denise Madrid at 784-5000, ext. 1047. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseMadrid_.