The suspect in a series of late-April stabbings in the city of Davis was undergoing a jury-based hearing to assess his competency, but the district attorney has instead dropped a challenge to an earlier competency assessment and the hearing has ended.
21-year-old Carlos Reales Dominguez is being remanded to the care of a state mental-health facility following an announcement in court Thursday that his competency assessment will not be further challenged. As the Davis Enterprise reports, Dominguez was first deemed incompetent to stand trial in June by a court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Juliana Rohrer, but the district attorney's office disagreed with the methodology of the assessment. Rohrer concluded that Dominguez is schizophrenic.
Things seem to have changed since the competency hearing began, and since Dominguez has reportedly repeatedly made outbursts in court. As KPIX reports, Dominguez at one point interrupted his own defense attorney saying, "I want to apologize and I want to say I'm guilty and forgive me."
"We’ve agreed that Mr. Dominguez is no longer competent to stand trial," said Deputy District Attorney Matt De Moura, per the Enterprise. But, De Moura said, his office disagreed with the finding that Dominguez did not understand "the nature of the proceedings against him" or "his status in these proceedings."
Yolo County Judge Samuel McAdam had already ruled that Dominguez needed to be involuntarily medicated, and he questioned why he had sat in jail until mid-July before being given any medication. The defense said that Dominguez had refused any medications.
"We stand by that decision to challenge the findings. However, based on the information that came out in trial and the recently initiated involuntary medication proceedings, we are now in agreement that Mr. Dominguez is presently not competent to stand trial," the DA's office said in a statement.
This does not mean that Dominguez won't stand trial, just that the trial will now be delayed. He will now be medicated for six months while in a treatment facility, and after that his competency will be reassessed.
"Competency is very fluid," says Dr. Dana Anderson, a forensic psychologist, speaking to KPIX.
Judge McAdam made clear Thursday that he was already on the side of the defense on the competency issue.
Dominguez stands accused of fatally stabbing 50-year-old David Breaux on April 27, known around town as The Compassion Guy because of a long-term project he was engaged in, while mostly unhoused in a city park, asking passersby to define compassion. He also accused in the April 29 fatal stabbing of 20-year-old UC Davis student Karim Abou Najm; and an injury stabbing days later in which the victim was a 64-year-old homeless woman.
Dominguez had been enrolled at UC Davis until just a few days before the stabbings began, and it seems clear enough that his deteriorating mental health was likely to blame for his academic troubles.
Dominguez grew up in Oakland and was studying to be a doctor.
Breaux's sister was at the courthouse Thursday, as the Enterprise reports, and she told the paper, "It’s reassuring that Carlos will get the treatment he obviously needs right now. I’m thankful to the DA team for acknowledging this."
Judge McAdam said, "I just wish the best for Mr. Dominguez so we can provide justice in this courtroom for the victims and our community. We'll see where that takes us."