Crime

Modesto man accused of murder declared mentally incompetent for trial

Rigoberto Ramirez Aleman is charged with murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, along with misdemeanor driving without a valid license, in the death last year of John Bixby, 38, of San Mateo.
Rigoberto Ramirez Aleman is charged with murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, along with misdemeanor driving without a valid license, in the death last year of John Bixby, 38, of San Mateo. Modesto Police Department

A Modesto man accused of murder in a suspected drunken driving crash will be sent to a state hospital until he is mentally competent for trial.

Rigoberto Ramirez Aleman’s case will remain suspended until he is capable of understanding the criminal charges against him and returning to Stanislaus County to face prosecution.

Aleman, 33, is charged with murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, along with misdemeanor driving without a valid license, in the death last year of John Bixby, 38, of San Mateo.

Aleman has been previously convicted of misdemeanor driving under the influence of drugs, child endangerment and drug possession in a separate incident. He was sentenced to jail time and released from custody Oct. 19. Later that day, Aleman was involved in the fatal crash with Bixby.

Initially, prosecutors had challenged a report from forensic psychologist Phil Trompetter. The psychologist had evaluated Aleman’s mental health and determined the defendant was not competent to assist with his defense.

Deputy Public Defender Greg Spiering had given the prosecutor additional information about Aleman’s past that might be relevant to his mental competence. The information likely would’ve been used in the trial.

Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Rick Distaso had scheduled a mental competency trial to start next week for a jury to decide whether the defendant was competent to face charges.

On Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Anthony Colacito informed the court that the prosecution would drop its challenge to Trompetter’s report. The judge then canceled the competency trial and scheduled Aleman to return to court Aug. 4 to determine which mental health facility he will be sent to.

The fatal crash occurred about 2:10 p.m. Oct. 19 at 12th and L streets in downtown Modesto. Aleman was driving a Chevrolet Malibu when he ran a stop sign and crashed into an Audi driven by Bixby, according to Modesto police.

Bixby was taken to a local hospital, where he died from his injuries. Aleman suffered moderate injuries and was hospitalized before he was released and charged. He has remained at the Stanislaus County jail ever since.

Authorities have said Aleman showed signs of driving under the influence of alcohol when the crash occurred.

Rosalio Ahumada: 209-578-2394, @ModBeeCourts

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