Competency to be re-examined in 1999 rape, assault in Modesto

rahumada@modbee.comJuly 16, 2013 

  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    Rosalio Ahumada
    Title: Courts reporter
    Coverage areas: Criminal cases, breaking news
    Bio: Rosalio Ahumada has been a reporter at The Bee for more than seven years, previously covering crime and public safety issues. He also has worked at the Merced Sun-Star, covering education.
    Recent stories written by Rosalio
    On Twitter: @ModBeeCourts
    E-mail: rahumada@modbee.com

— A second Stanislaus County jury will determine whether a man accused of assault and rape is mentally fit to stand trial, even though the first jury decided in May that he was capable.

Authorities say Pedro Vicente Aguirre beat a couple in their south Modesto home before kidnapping and raping their 3-year-old daughter 14 years ago.

His trial was scheduled to start last month, but the judge canceled it and suspended the proceedings after the defendant's mental health came into question again.

On June 7, Aguirre disrupted a pretrial hearing by ranting loudly and incoherently, forcing the judge to remove him from the courtroom.

The next week, Peter Stavrianoudakis, Aguirre's defense attorney, told the judge that his client's condition had deteriorated. He said the defendant's delusions had increased, making it impossible for him to have rational conversation with Aguirre.

Stavrianoudakis has argued that his client's mental health prevents him from assisting in his defense.

Judge Thomas Zeff received a letter from a psychiatrist hired by the defense, who examined Aguirre last month. The judge said the letter had enough new information that would require another court-ordered mental health evaluation.

On Tuesday morning, Aguirre appeared briefly in court with his attorney for a pretrial hearing. He didn't exhibit disruptive behavior, sitting quietly.

Zeff received a report from forensic psychologist Phil Trompetter, who was appointed by the court to examine Aguirre for the second time. Details of the doctor's report were not discussed in court Tuesday.

The defense attorney, however, declined to allow the judge to make a ruling on Aguirre's mental capacity based on the doctor's report. It's unclear whether Trompetter's mental health evaluation differed from that of the psychiatrist hired by the defense.

Stavrianoudakis told the judge that he would rather leave it up to the jury to decide whether his client is mentally fit to stand trial.

The jury in early May returned with a verdict after 20 minutes of deliberations. Jurors listened to arguments from the attorneys and testimony from Trompetter, who first examined Aguirre in December. The jurors agreed with Trompetter — the defendant was capable of standing trial.

Zeff scheduled Aguirre to return to court July 24 to schedule his second mental competency trial. The defendant remains in custody without bail.

Aguirre, 36, is charged with two counts of attempted murder, forcible aggravated sexual assault of a minor, kidnapping to commit rape, committing a forcible lewd act on a child younger than 14, burglary and child endangerment.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or (209) 578-2394. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeeCourts.

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