An Indio man accused of using a knife to kill his girlfriend and setting fire to the Thermal mobile home she shared with her children will undergo a second mental competency review, a judge ruled Friday.
Christian Pacheco, 24, is accused in the death of 30-year-old Elilia Valdez, a mother of two whose body was found on March 18, 2017, in the area of 63700 Monroe St., about six hours after sheriff’s deputies found her mobile home ablaze.
No one was inside the mobile home, but “information obtained from witnesses indicated that a domestic violence incident may have occurred between an adult female resident and her boyfriend before the home was set on fire,” Riverside County Sheriff’s Sgt. Raymond Huskey said at the time.
Pacheco was charged with murder, arson, assault and animal cruelty, but criminal proceedings were suspended when his attorney, Christopher DeSalva, declared doubts as to the defendant’s mental competency.
Pacheco was declared incompetent to stand trial in March 2018 by Riverside County Superior Court Judge Otis Sterling and sent to a state-rum mental hospital for a commitment not to exceed three years.
He was later found competent to face criminal proceedings, Riverside County District Attorney’s Office spokesman John Hall said.
Pacheco was due in court Friday for a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to order him to stand trial, but DeSalva again raised doubts about his client’s mental competence.
Superior Court Judge Burke Strunsky sided with the defense, and asked for doctors’ reports on Pacheco’s mental state to be returned for a hearing scheduled for Aug. 23.
Two doctors testified during the first mental competency hearing in 2018 that Pacheco likely suffered from a mental disorder, though neither diagnosis was definitive.
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