A suspect accused of beating a Thermal man to death changed his plea on a murder charge to not guilty by reason of insanity Friday, prompting a judge to order a doctor to review the defendant’s mental state.
Saul Mayoral, 50, is accused in the March 23, 2018, death of a man identified only as Hector Q. in court documents. The victim’s body was found in a drainage channel near the suspect’s mobile home, authorities said.
A local resident discovered the victim’s body at 7:17 a.m. that day in the 87800 block of Avenue 52 and flagged down deputies, Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Wallace Clear said at the time.
Mayoral, who allegedly killed the victim with a bat, lived close to where the victim was found and was arrested later that evening.
He initially pleaded not guilty to one murder count and was in court Friday for a trial-readiness conference, where he changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Burke Strunsky instructed a psychologist to return to court with a report on Mayoral’s mental status for an Oct. 1 mental competency hearing.
At the time of his arrest, Mayoral was on probation for battery committed against a custodial officer, according to court records. In addition to the murder count, he also faces a sentence-enhancing allegation of using weapon in commission of a felony.
Mayoral continues to be held at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning in lieu of $1 million bail.