Anh Giao Thai is mentally unfit to stand trial in the February stabbing death of his wife at their home, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled this week, in a decision that could send the octogenarian to a state hospital.
Thai, 85, had been held at Sacramento County’s main jail since his Feb. 23 arrest by Elk Grove police on suspicion of killing his wife, 77-year-old Xuan Xa at their home in the 4600 block of Laguna West Way, in the city’s Laguna area. Family members say Thai, once a police officer in Vietnam before the fall of Saigon, suffers from dementia.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley reviewed a series of doctors’ reports from June and in August at Thai’s competency trial Monday, finding the Elk Grove man not competent and determining that Thai is “unable to consent to the administration of anti-psychotic medication,” according to a minute order documenting the proceedings.
Thai’s court-appointed attorney, Deputy Public Defender Norm Dawson, said Thursday that he plans to recommend his client be sent to Napa State Hospital at Thai’s Nov. 19 Superior Court hearing.
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He called Thai’s proposed hospitalization “all but a certainty.”
If Thai cannot be restored to competence, Dawson said another option could be a Murphy Conservatorship, in which a person is assigned to a secured, locked facility other than a state hospital.
Thai has been housed on a medical floor of Sacramento County’s main jail for much of his time in custody. Thai’s case now is referred to the Central Valley Conditional Release Program, one in a statewide system of mental health treatment services for offenders including those unfit to stand trial.
The program assesses appropriate placement of the offender based on factors including the person’s age and offense, Dawson said.
Thai joins another elderly man held at Sacramento County’s main jail on a murder charge. Masaharu Ono, now 90, was arrested in June in connection with the violent death of his wife at their south Sacramento home. Defense attorneys in Ono’s case voiced concerns that he, too, suffered from dementia. Ono’s next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 13
A judge will receive a report from the program on Thai at the Nov. 19 court date and is expected to decide the Elk Grove man’s status at that time.