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Attorney for ex-student charged in California stabbing deaths says he's not mentally fit for trial

Carlos Dominguez UC DAVIS STABBER
Posted at 9:21 PM, Jul 25, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The former student charged with murder in the stabbing deaths of two people and attempted murder of a third near a Northern California university has not showered in the nearly three months he's been in jail, goes days without eating and believes he will return to classes, his attorney said Tuesday.

The remarks by Dan Hutchinson, Yolo County public defender, came during a proceeding to determine whether Carlos Dominguez is mentally competent to participate in a criminal trial over the stabbings that rocked the University of California, Davis, campus and surrounding community.

Hutchinson said he will present evidence showing that Dominguez started showing outward signs of schizophrenia toward the end of his freshman year. Prosecutors said Dominguez is “toying with the system" and should face a criminal trial.

Jurors will ultimately decide whether he is fit for trial. To be found mentally unfit, the defense must show that Dominguez cannot currently understand court proceedings, assist his attorney in his defense and understand his own status in the criminal proceeding. If jurors find that Dominguez is not competent, he will be evaluated for treatment at a state mental health hospital instead of proceeding with a criminal trial.

Dominguez had been a third-year student at the University of California, Davis, majoring in biological sciences until April 25, when he was expelled. Several days later, prosecutors say he began carrying out three stabbings on or near the campus. He is charged in the deaths of a 50-year-old homeless man well-loved in the community and a 20-year-old UC Davis student. A homeless woman attacked in her tent survived.

He was arrested on May 4, a week after the first body was found, near the location of the second attack.

Hutchinson said in court that Dominguez had failed all of his winter term classes this year.

“He sits there each day in his empty cell, unclothed, unmedicated, untreated for his mental illness,” he said of Dominguez, who is observed every 15 minutes because he is on suicide watch. “He has not showered a single time and if he ever has brushed his teeth nobody appears to have seen that.”

But Frits van der Hoek, Yolo County deputy district attorney, told jurors that his team will present evidence showing that the former student is intentionally acting unfit for trial. He said the court-appointed expert who declared Dominguez incompetent for trial did not question him rigorously enough.

As in previous appearances, Dominguez was in court wearing a green safety vest with long hair hanging in his face. Previously he has spoken out loud in court to say he was guilty and wanted to apologize and that he did not want an attorney.

Hutchinson called Dominguez's former girlfriend, Caley Gallardo, to testify. Gallardo, who will be a senior at UC Davis in the fall, said they met freshman year and bonded over their educational drives and closeness to family.

She broke up with him in March or April 2022 as he changed from a reserved yet healthy and engaged student into someone who stopped eating and caring about his grooming. She tried to talk to him about possible mental illness, but he was not receptive to the idea, she said.

Hutchinson also planned to call Dominguez's former roommates and a prior co-worker at Jack in the Box to testify about his behavior.