A man accused of beating a Modesto couple before kidnapping and raping their 3-year-old daughter 14 years ago has returned to Stanislaus County after spending a few months at a mental health facility.
In September, Pedro Vicente Aguirre, 36, was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial.
His criminal case was suspended, and he was sent to Napa State Hospital to receive treatment. Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff ordered the defendant to remain at the hospital until his sanity could be restored and he could return to stand trial.
Aguirre was released from the hospital and brought back to Stanislaus County Jail on Dec. 13. On Wednesday morning, Aguirre appeared in Zeff’s courtroom. The judge confirmed with the attorneys that Aguirre’s third mental competency trial will start Feb. 19.
In May, a jury listened to testimony about Aguirre’s mental health and decided he was mentally fit to stand trial.
His mental health came into question again about a month later, when Aguirre had an outburst during a hearing and was removed from the courtroom. After the second mental competency trial, the judge determined Aguirre could not understand the charges and punishment he faces.
At that September hearing, Aguirre stood up and spoke loudly and incoherently. The disruptive outburst forced the judge to remove him from the courtroom a second time.
Peter Stavrianoudakis, Aguirre’s attorney, has argued in court that his client suffers from mental illness and is not able to communicate coherently and assist in his defense.
Deputy District Attorney Annette Rees has said in court that a forensic psychologist has examined Aguirre and found no indication that the defendant suffers from a severe mental disorder.
Aguirre 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.
The child endangerment charge stems from the fact that the couple’s 7-year-old boy was in the home when the attack on his parents occurred.
In a May 2012 preliminary hearing, the prosecutor said Aguirre forced his way into the family’s home in the 1600 block of Imperial Avenue about 8 a.m. Oct. 24, 1999.
Rees argued that Aguirre beat the 34-year-old father and the 26-year-old mother with a tire iron before grabbing their daughter and running away. The girl was sexually assaulted in a nearby orchard, authorities have testified, and two witnesses stopped the assault and chased away the assailant.
The parents later were released from the hospital after being treated for major blunt-force head trauma. The girl required surgery.
Stavrianoudakis argued in the preliminary hearing that the prosecution presented conflicting testimony linking his client to the attack, the kidnapping and the sexual assault.