Two years ago a San Diego man named Carlo Mercado was arrested for shooting his two brothers Salvatore and Gianni Belvedere and his fiancée, Ilona Flint, at Mission Valley mall on Christmas Eve. The couple was discovered shot inside their car, which was parked in the mall’s parking lot. Gianni’s decomposing body was also found in a car parked at a Riverside Mall in January 2014. San Diego Police arrested Mercado in June 2014. Mercado has pled not guilty on three counts of first-degree murder.
Last November, a judge ruled Mercado not competent to stand trial for his murder charges after two psychiatrists and one psychologist diagnosed Mercado with schizophrenia, psychosis, and catatonic depression. The judge further ordered him to be treated at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino, CA for the next three years until he was found competent to assist in his own defense. Mercado has been at San Diego Central Jail since this past September, since evaluators at the hospital said he was now competent to stand trial. Mercado’s lawyer then requested a competency trial for him, indicating that the defense team will be arguing Mercado is still unable to understand the nature of his criminal proceedings or assist in his own counsel. Earlier this week, a judge set the competency trial for December 14.
What Does it Mean to be Competent to Stand Trial?