Competency report expected in 2 weeks in Joseph Ward murder case | TheUnion.com

Competency report expected in 2 weeks in Joseph Ward murder case

Joseph Ward

Attorneys in the murder case of Joseph Ward anticipate the release of a report about his competency in two weeks.

Authorities arrested Ward, 32, days after the June death of 62-year-old Kenneth Pestana. Facing a murder accusation in Nevada County, Ward raised questions about his competency that led a judge last year to put the case on hold.

Ward must be found competent before his criminal case can resume.

A psychiatrist has performed an evaluation on Ward to determine his competency. Deputy Public Defender Tamara Zuromskis, who represents Ward, told Superior Court Judge Tom Anderson she expects the psychiatrist's report within days.

Anderson expressed concern over the report becoming available within a week, leading Zuromskis to ask the judge to set the next hearing date in two weeks. Attorneys now are set to discuss the issue on March 2.

The report could determine whether a trial is needed to decide if Ward is competent.

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If a competency trial is held, and a jury finds him competent, then Ward could proceed to a criminal trial on his murder charge, prosecutors said.

Ward — who refused to go to court on Friday — is accused in the slaying of Pestana, who was found dead in a building on his Highway 20 property. Officers arrested Ward in Carson City a day after Pestana's body was found, authorities have said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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