Trial delayed while defendant goes to state mental hospital
MERCED - A 42-year-old man accused of stabbing his schoolteacher wife to
death will be sent to a state mental hospital before his trial can move
forward, a Merced County judge ruled Monday.
Judge Marc Garcia determined defendant Rudy Romero is mentally incompetent
to stand trial. He’s accused of killing 44-year-old Diane Romero
at the couple’s Tioga Court home Sept. 16.
The judge’s decision suspends any further court proceedings in the
case until Romero’s mental issues are addressed.
Garcia didn’t say what Romero is suffering from, but he determined
the defendant is incapable of assisting in his defense. His medical records
A hospital stay doesn’t end the case.
“When a doctor determines he’s competent, he’ll be brought
back to court,” said Romero’s attorney
Jeffrey Tenenbaum. “That could be several months — or years.”
Chief Deputy District Attorney Rob Carroll, the prosecutor in the case,
said he’s hopeful Romero’s visit to the state hospital won’t
be a long one.
“I am hoping it doesn’t take more than six months,” he said.
Diane Romero was a third-grade teacher at Peterson Elementary School. Her
husband was a school bus driver. The couple have two sons.
Merced police found the defendant with superficial stab wounds in his back
yard. His wife’s body was found in the backyard pool. She’d
been stabbed numerous times.
Prosecutors said marital problems led to the killing.
Prosecutors believe Rudy Romero’s injuries were self-inflicted. He’s
charged with first-degree murder, with an enhancement for the use of a
deadly weapon. If convicted, he faces 26 years to life in prison.