A judge will have to decide if a man accused of killing Stanislaus County sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace is mentally competent to face criminal charges.
David Machado appeared in court Wednesday. He is charged with murder in Wallace's death last year.
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.
Machado's case has remained suspended, since the court determined that his mental competency needed to be restored before proceeding. A forensic psychologist reported that Machado was able to understand the court proceedings, but the defendant was not capable of assisting his attorney in the case.
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Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff on Wednesday scheduled a court trial to begin Nov. 16. Attorneys on both sides will present evidence concerning Machado's mental competency, according to John Goold, a spokesman for the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office.
At the end of the trial, Judge Zeff will determine whether Machado's ability to understand the criminal proceedings and assist in his legal defense. The judge could reinstate the murder case or send Machado to receive additional treatment to restore his competency.
Machado cannot face charges in the deputy’s death until after his mental competency is restored.
The defendant's murder charge comes with a special-circumstance allegation that makes the case eligible for the death penalty. But the District Attorney's Office has not informed the court if it will seek the death penalty against Machado.