Delhi homicide suspect incompetent, unable to stand trial, says judge

vpatton@mercedsun-star.comFebruary 26, 2013 

A Merced County judge decided Tuesday a 35-year-old man accused of shooting his father to death is incompetent, and thus unable to stand trial.

Judge Mark Bacciarini made the decision after reading medical reports from psychologists who evaluated Jason Curtis Reed, the suspect in the killing of J.D. Reed, 67, who was found shot to death in his bed on Jan. 1.

Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby said court appointed psychologists Andrew Neufeld and Phillip Hamm evaluated the defendant and both concluded he was incompetent. Colby said he couldn't elaborate about the specific mental condition that affects Reed, but said Bacciarini concluded the defendant's unable to rationally participate in his own defense proceedings or assist his attorney.

According to court documents, Reed's family members had told detectives he'd been suffering from mental issues, with symptoms similar to schizophrenia.

Still, being declared incompetent doesn't mean Reed won't eventually stand trial for murder. Colby said if Reed's competency is restored at a state hospital he'll be returned to Merced County, in order to stand trial.

Colby also pointed out Reed won't be released at any time due to the judge's determination. He'll be kept at a secure mental health facility -- most likely Atascadero State Hospital or Napa State Hospital.

Reed is scheduled return to court March 21 to determine where he'll be sent.

During Tuesday's hearing, Reed requested to be sent to Napa State Hospital, in order to be closer to family members. Colby said, however, that Reed's request won't have any bearing on where he'll ultimately end up.

Reed's 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.

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.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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