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Garcia's insanity plea may limit trial options

If the man, who is charged with murder, isn't competent, he can't waive his right to a jury trial.

By CHASE SQUIRES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 3, 2002


DADE CITY -- Enrique Guzan Garcia was insane when he was accused of first-degree murder, his attorney argued Tuesday. But he might not be well enough to put that question before a judge.

Garcia, 28, was arrested Nov. 17, 1999, in the death three days earlier of Ricardo Lopez, 26. Lopez was found dead in the Tommytown community north of Dade City. Investigators say Garcia was jealous over a woman and stabbed Lopez. Several of the stab wounds were to Lopez's groin.

Since then, Garcia's case has been in limbo as Garcia was questioned by doctors, sent to a state mental hospital and then returned, and now appears bound for more exams.

His public defender, Tom Hanlon, told Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb on Tuesday that doctors agree he was insane at the time. He told the judge he wouldn't object to waiving a jury trial and letting a judge read the medical reports and decide his fate.

Problem is, Cobb said, if Garcia isn't competent to make sound decisions, he can't waive his right to a jury trial.

Hanlon notified the court in 2000 that he planned to use an insanity defense. Doctors who examined Garcia then reported that he said he was hearing voices from witches and the devil.

He has been held either in a Pasco County jail without bail or at a secure state hospital since his arrest.

He was not in court Tuesday and has been under psychiatric care since a May courtroom appearance when he began shouting and talking to the floor.

Cobb ordered the same doctors who examined him earlier to re-examine him.

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