Murder trial delayed for psychological assessment

Daniel DeWitt, charged with felony murder and use of a deadly weapon. Photo: KTVU

Judge Sandra Bean yesterday delayed the trial of homicide suspect Daniel Jordan DeWitt so that two doctors could assess him for mental competence under section 1368 of the California Penal Code.

On Wednesday, DeWitt was charged with felony murder and use of a deadly weapon in the killing of Peter Cukor outside his home in the Berkeley hills on Feb 18. Yesterday, Dewitt’s lawyer, Brian Bloom, asked the court for a delay so that DeWitt’s competence to stand trial could be assessed.

Cukor and his wife Andrea Cukor returned home around 8:45 pm on the night of Feb. 18 and saw DeWitt loitering in their garage. Peter Cukor told DeWitt to leave, went inside the house, then came out again and was attacked, according to BPD. A ceramic planter was allegedly used in the attack.

Al DeWitt Jr., DeWitt’s father, said his son was diagnosed five years ago with paranoid schizophrenia and has been in mental health facilities at least nine times.

The trial will resume on March 22 at 9 a.m.

DeWitt is also scheduled to appear in court on March 6, 2012 for an alleged battery against a nurse at John George Psychiatric Pavilion in December 2010.

Related:
Murder suspect was looking for fictional girlfriend [02.23.12]
Councilmember: unanswered questions over murder [02.23.12]
Alleged killer had been in and out of mental institutions [02.21.12]
Berkeley hills neighbors react with shock to brutal murder [02.20.12]
Intruder assaults, kills homeowner on Grizzly Peak [02.19.12]

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  • guest

    A minor correction:  it’s inaccurate to say that “the trial was delayed” or ”the trial will resume.”  The defendant here hasn’t even entered an initial plea.  If and when that happens (given the competency issues), the court will then schedule various dates, which might eventually include a preliminary hearing.  And all of that — including the actual preliminary hearing — must occur before any judge comes anywhere close to scheduling an actual trial.  For now, it’s probably accurate to write simply that “the next court date was scheduled for March 22.”  The purpose of that date, one can reasonably assume, is to get an update on the competency issue.  That’s not really a “delay” of anything.