For the second time in four years, a Winton woman charged with murder has been deemed incompetent to stand trial in Merced County Superior Court, according to court records.
Criminal proceedings against Rachelle Lynn Hampton, 41, remain suspended. The decision was made early Thursday by Judge Donald E. Shaver after a psychiatric evaluation. Further psychiatric reports have been ordered, and Hampton was ordered to return to court Dec. 5, according to court documents.
“The defendant’s condition would deteriorate without treatment with medication and serious harm to physical and mental health would result,” a court minute order says.
Hampton has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity in the death of 84-year-old Savino Herrera Baiz, who was found shot to death July 23, 2009, in his home at 7614 Fairlane Ave.
Investigators said Hampton had been staying with Baiz for some time and they had been arguing before Baiz was killed. It remains unclear why Hampton and Baiz were fighting, according to court records.
When investigators asked Hampton if she killed Baiz, she said it was possible. She also claimed she was a forensic specialist employed by the FBI and able to reattach decapitated heads.
Doubts over the defendant’s ability to understand the charges against her were previously raised in 2009. She was deemed unfit to stand trial and hospitalized for more than a year. She returned to face the murder charge again in 2011.
Defense attorneys have said that doctors determined Hampton was insane at the time of the death.
Hampton remains in custody at the Merced County main jail in lieu of more than $1 million bail.