The case in the killing of Stanislaus County sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace will remain suspended as doctors help the defendant restore his mental competency to face criminal charges.
Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff on Monday said David Machado is able to understand the court proceedings, but not capable of assisting his attorney in the case. Machado is accused of gunning down the deputy Nov. 13.
The judge scheduled Machado to return to court Feb. 14 to determine what kind of mental health treatment the defendant will receive. Machado likely will be sent to a state hospital until his competency can be restored.
Machado remains in custody and is being held without bail. His murder charge comes with a special circumstance allegation that makes the case eligible for the death penalty, but prosecutors have not informed the court whether they will seek it.
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Machado entered the courtroom Monday morning wearing a dark red-and-white-striped inmate jumpsuit and shackles, with chains around his waist and between his ankles. Machado sat quietly next to his attorney during the brief hearing.
The prosecution did not challenge findings of a mental health evaluation of Machado, which was conducted by a forensic psychologist.
The deputy was killed shortly before 8:30 a.m. Nov. 13 after he spotted a stolen van at the Fox Grove Fishing Access near Hughson. Wallace, 53, was a 20-year Sheriff’s Department veteran, assigned to Salida, the courthouse and most recently Hughson. Authorities say Wallace was shot in the head twice at close range.
At 8:40 a.m., a white Kia was carjacked about 8 miles away near Keyes. Machado was then identified as the suspect, Sheriff Adam Christianson said. Authorities issued an alert asking people to look for the car, a Kia Rio, and a statewide manhunt ensued. Machado was captured several hours later in Tulare County.
Two enhancements have been added to Machado’s murder charge, accusing him of acting with premeditation and using a gun to kill Wallace. The defendant also faces enhancements of using a gun in vehicle thefts.
Machado was wanted on a bench warrant on failure to appear in court on a gun charge when the fatal shooting occurred. He faces an additional enhancement because of that. Enhancements could lengthen the defendant’s prison sentence if he is convicted.