A man charged with beating a fellow inmate to death in the Sacramento County jail six years ago has been declared mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Superior Court Judge Michael G. Bowman made the finding Friday in the murder case of Richard Russell Harden, according to court records.
Harden, who is now 50, was accused in the beating and strangulation killing of Evaristo Ramirez, 25, a day laborer who had been arrested the day before his Feb. 16, 2009, death for drunken driving.
Harden was in custody on charges of beating a woman with a hammer at the Home Depot on Folsom Boulevard.
The Ramirez family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the county on grounds that jail employees improperly placed Harden in the same cell as the homicide victim, a Mexican national. Attorneys for the family maintained that Harden had a racial prejudice against Mexican nationals.
Before trial, Judge Raymond Cadei dismissed the portion of the suit that targeted Harden’s classification. The judge ruled that jail employees are immune from civil actions that challenge their discretion on cell placements.
A jury later exonerated the remaining deputy defendant who was accused in the civil suit of failing to respond fast enough to a third inmate’s emergency call about a ruckus in the Harden-Ramirez cell.
Harden is scheduled to return to court April 24 for a conditional release hearing. He is likely to be placed in a state mental hospital, according to his attorney, Linda Parisi.
Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.