Child accused in San Diego stabbing murder found mentally incompetent (SAM SPITAL)

“Any time a 10 or 11 year old child is charged with murder, it is not only unspeakable for the victim’s family but the family of the accused also suffers emotional harm. It has been reported the child in this case had a mental illness, the Juvenile Court Judge found him mentally incompetent and, therefore, he could not stand trial until declared otherwise. This is a procedure in both juvenile and adult court.

Clearly, an accused must understand the charges brought against him and be able to assist his attorney who must ascertain sufficient facts to evaluate the options for presenting a defense Sometimes it is not whether an individual committed a crime, but whether he could formulate the required intent to be held guilty. In addition, if an individual is deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial, an effective and proper representation by legal counsel would not be possible, thereby denying the accused of due process of law. There may be a challenge for the Court in this case as a result of the defense lawyer stating the child is “remorseful,” since that would evince some type of understanding of the wrongful nature of his acts after the event(s) in question. Given a conundrum such as it seems, the Court has to exercise its sound discretion and have the child evaluated by a mental health professional to determine whether he is currently fit to stand trial.”

Sam Spital, Criminal Defense Lawyer