MERCED — A Delhi man charged with the shooting death of his father will not stand trial until he can be evaluated to determine his mental competency, a Merced County judge ruled Thursday.
Judge Mark Bacciarini approved a defense motion to suspend criminal proceedings in the case of Jason Curtis Reed, 35, until a mental evaluation can be completed by two court-appointed mental health specialists.
Reed is accused of killing his father, J.D. Reed, 67, who was found shot to death in bed on Jan. 1.
Vincent Andrade, chief deputy public defender, said proceedings must be suspended whenever there's uncertainty about a defendant's competency.
"It appears justifiable to request this, based on my knowledge of the case," Andrade said. "Competence must be addressed before other issues in the case."
Andrade would not elaborate on the specifics of Reed's behavior, but family members have told detectives he had been suffering from mental issues, with symptoms similar to schizophrenia.
The medical report is scheduled to be presented to the judge on Feb. 14.
Travis Colby, deputy district attorney, said Thursday's decision did not come as a surprise. "Well, it's to be expected," Colby said. "If the defense attorney has any doubt in his mind about his client's competence, they have a right to suspend the proceedings."
Colby added that Reed won't be released into the public, regardless of the findings regarding his mental state.
"If Reed is found incompetent, he gets sent to a state mental hospital for a maximum duration that he'd be facing for trial," Colby said. "If his competence is restored, he will come back and be tried."
If found incompetent, Reed could potentially spend his life in a locked mental facility.
Reed is charged with one count of murder, which holds a maximum sentence of 25 years to life. He also faces an enhancement charge for the gun, which carries a 25 years-to-life maximum sentence.
He was arrested Jan. 3 by San Joaquin County sheriff's deputies and the Merced County Sheriff's Tactical and Reconnaissance Team at a truck stop off Interstate 5.
The younger Reed was being sought by authorities after his father's body was discovered at his residence in the 9000 block of Sycamore Street in Delhi. Authorities say the victim was shot in the upper body.
Jason Reed couldn't be found immediately after the body was discovered, but Merced County Sheriff's Department detectives tracked him to San Joaquin County using vehicle information and other details provided by his family.
Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.