A judge Wednesday ordered a psychiatric evaluation of a 21-year-old Escondido man accused in the stabbing death of a Palm Desert woman.
A shackled Richard Colin Holbrook appeared in the courtroom of Riverside County Superior Court Judge Burke E. Strunsky for arraignment on a first-degree murder charge with a sentence enhancement allegation of committing a felony with a weapon.
Shortly after his attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf, Richard Colin Holbrook retracted his lawyer’s omission, appearing to admit to killing 33-year-old Nicole Henderson.
“I’d like to plead guilty,” he said.
The omission came well after the slot in the arraignment when defendants state their plea, but instead during the moment when Strunsky was informing Holbrook that by agreeing to a continence, Holbrook would be waiving his right to speedy preliminary hearing.
Strunsky had just finished up saying he was continuing the next court date to January because of the “nature of the case” and the “volume of discovery,” meaning the large amount of evidence compiled by the prosecution.
After Holbrook’s comment, his attorney, Sean F. Leslie of Carlsbad, quickly asked Strunsky for a moment in the hall with his client, which was granted.
Upon their return, Strunsky called for a five-minute break to meet with Leslie and the deputy district attorney on the case, Carrie McCurdy, in a back hallway. Upon their reentry, Leslie again pleaded not guilty on his client’s behalf, along with denying the associated sentence enhancement of committing a felony with a weapon.
This time Holbook stood silent.
The judge then announced he would no longer be willing to grant a continuance to January, and instead scheduled the next court date, a felony settlement conference, for Nov. 8 at the Larson Justice Center.
“Today I am not going to take any guilty pleas,” he said, then ordered that Holbrook receive “psychological services” as soon as possible.
Riverside County sheriff’s deputies responding to an assault with a deadly weapon call found Henderson with “significant trauma” to her body around 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the 45200 block of Panorama Drive in Palm Desert. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Court records show she was stabbed with a knife.
Deputies arrested Holbrook near the intersection of Sunrise Lane and Abronia Trail, according to jail records, a few blocks from where Henderson was found dead.
Investigators indicated the victim and the defendant knew each other, but wouldn’t comment on the nature of the relationship.
Holbrook is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
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