Crime - Sacto 911

Judge finds suspect in deputy killings competent to stand trial

Luis Monroy Bracamontes smiles during his mental competancy hearing on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015.
Luis Monroy Bracamontes smiles during his mental competancy hearing on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. Sacramento

A judge on Friday found Luis Bracamontes competent to stand trial in the October 2014 slayings of two Sacramento-area sheriff’s deputies during a daylong outburst of violence.

Bracamontes’ mental state had been in question since last June, when his own lawyers filed documents in court asking Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White to decide whether the suspect was able to understand the nature of the court proceedings he faces and to assist in his defense.

White responded Friday in a brief court session with a finding that Bracamontes is competent and scheduled a preliminary hearing in the case for March 28.

Bracamontes, sitting at a defense table smiling and nodding Friday with six deputies watching in the courtroom, had no obvious reaction.

At hearings in November and December, Bracamontes’ lawyers and prosecutors sparred over whether the suspect is too mentally ill to face trial, and experts who examined him in jail came to different conclusions.

One psychiatrist brought in by the defense testified that Bracamontes believes he is so close to God that he cannot be put to death, that the poison from a lethal injection would be transformed to vitamins and that attempts to hang him or kill him by firing squad would fail.

Another expert supported the prosecution’s stance that he can face trial, saying he suffers from mental illness but understands what is going on and is mentally competent.

Bracamontes, 35, was in this country illegally from Mexico at the time he allegedly shot and killed Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver and Placer County Deputy Michael Davis Jr. during a daylong rampage that began in a motel parking lot near the Arden Fair mall and ended near Auburn.

Bracamontes faces the death penalty if convicted. His wife, Janelle Monroy, 39, who was with him at the time, faces life in prison.

Monroy also was in court Friday and entered a not-guilty plea to the lengthy list of charges White read to her.

Sam Stanton: 916-321-1091, @StantonSam