Thorpe ruled ready for trial
Doctors say he still has delusions about FBI conspiracies and poisoned water, but Scott Thorpe has regained his mental competence and can stand trial for the Jan. 10, 2001, fatal shooting rampage, a Nevada County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.
With his murder case reinstated, Thorpe is scheduled to be arraigned Monday on an earlier grand jury indictment. He briefly attended Thursday’s hearing before telling the judge he needed to leave.
Judge Ersel Edwards ruled that Thorpe meets the legal standards for competency – he understands his charges, the criminal proceedings, the possible consequences and his available defense strategies.
Thorpe’s lawyer, Public Defender Thomas Anderson, disagreed with the ruling, but shifted toward the next step of building an insanity defense should the case reach trial.
“Unfortunately, that’s where we will be headed. That’s pretty obvious,” he said.
If Thorpe uses the insanity defense and is found guilty at trial, there will be a second trial to decide if he is not guilty by reason of insanity. If that happens, Thorpe, who has schizophrenia, would likely go to a state mental hospital rather than prison.
On the competency issue, three doctors – two of whom testified Thursday – all said Thorpe understands his case and trusts and works well with Anderson. Two doctors who interviewed him soon after the shootings also observed clearer thinking.
But Thorpe still has delusions, although he suppresses them better, a point Anderson emphasized in arguing that Thorpe is still incompetent.
Thorpe, 42, still believes an “Agent Jacky” could help his case, and that the FBI and the county Department of Behavioral Health Services conspired against him, Yuba City psychologist Don Stembridge said.
“Agent Jacky” had been considered a fictional character, but Stembridge said the person might be a credit union employee who had helped him with a vehicle loan.
That person’s real name wasn’t disclosed, and neither was that of “John Francis,” a Behavioral Health employee whom Thorpe believed poisoned his water in a conspiracy with the FBI, according to Stembridge.
Despite maintaining these beliefs, Thorpe doesn’t discuss them as often. “He’s kind of philosophizing on why they don’t bother him the same as before,” Stembridge said.
Thorpe’s court appearance was his first since March 30, 2001 – when he was ruled incompetent – and it was a brief showing.
Edwards, realizing Thorpe felt uncomfortable in court, told him he could leave when he felt like it.
With that, Thorpe, heavier and with a longer beard, rose from his chair. Bailiffs led him to the exit, past his brother and sister-in law, Kent and Sharon Thorpe.
“He didn’t want to be here at all,” Sharon Thorpe said.
His presence wasn’t required because the hearing was a civil proceeding, but the judge had earlier told Anderson that Thorpe’s presence would help with his decision.
Thorpe is accused of killing three people and wounding two in back-to-back shootings at the county Department of Behavioral Health and Lyon’s Restaurant. A sixth person was seriously injured jumping from a window at Behavioral Health.
After he was found incompetent, he received treatment at state hospitals in Atascadero and Napa before his return to Nevada County in May. He remains held at Wayne Brown Correctional Facility.
In August, Thorpe was indicted by a grand jury called by District Attorney Mike Ferguson. The indictment has been sealed since then, and Ferguson declined to outline the charges Thorpe faces.
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