Merced man accused in store clerk shooting in Modesto pleads insanity

05/15/2013 3:18 PM

05/15/2013 3:19 PM

A man accused of fatally shooting a store clerk in 2009 pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Wednesday morning.

Mark Burgess, 25, and Ernesto Morales Jr., 24, both of Merced, are accused of killing Harinder Sanghera, 28, of Ceres. Authorities allege the duo shot Sanghera on Dec. 4, 2009, at the Gas N Shop Market in the 900 block of South Ninth Street.

Burgess and Morales are being prosecuted separately; Morales’ trial is set to begin Sept. 23.

During an appearance in Stanislaus County Superior Court on Wednesday, Burgess responded, “Yes, ma’am,” when Judge Dawna Reeves asked him if his plea was not guilty by reason of insanity, and “Yes” when she asked him if he waived his right to a speedy trial.

During an earlier court appearance, Reeves noted that Burgess looked groggy. When she asked if he understood everything said in court that day, Burgess answered, “No, not really.”

Defense attorney Marlon Simon said then that he would talk with Burgess and make sure the defendant understood the court proceedings.

Simon said he and prosecutor John Mayne agreed that two doctors should examine Burgess to determine his mental state. Simon suggested putting a pretrial hearing off for two months or longer to give the doctors time to conduct their examinations and prepare their reports.

Reeves instead put it off until June 21 but didn’t discount a further delay. “They’ll let us know how much time they need,” she said.

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