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Judge orders murder suspect be sent to Napa State Hospital

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APRIL 16, 2012

A judge ruled Friday that Daniel DeWitt, who was charged with murdering a Berkeley resident earlier this year, should be sent to the Napa State Hospital to be treated for his mental illness.

DeWitt, 23, has been accused of killing Peter Cukor, 67, on Feb. 18 outside of Cukor’s home in the Berkeley Hills. Last month, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Sandra Bean suspended the criminal case against DeWitt and ruled that he is mentally incompetent to stand trial.

At a hearing Friday, Bean said DeWitt “lacks the capacity to make a decision about taking anti-psychotic medication” and that he could seriously harm himself and others, according to Bay City News.

According to police, DeWitt was found less than a block away from Cukor’s home just minutes after Cukor was found beaten.

DeWitt was arraigned in late February and charged with felony murder and use of a deadly weapon, referring to the ceramic planter DeWitt allegedly bludgeoned Cukor with. Bean later decided to delay the trial so DeWitt could be assessed for mental competence. In late March, DeWitt was found to be not mentally competent to stand trial.

Before the incident in February, DeWitt had a criminal record and a history of mental illness and had been accused of battery against a nurse at the John George Psychiatric Pavilion.

DeWitt’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Brian Bloom, said that it could take DeWitt — who is being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin — six to eight weeks to get into the Napa State Hospital, because there is a waitlist, according to Bay City News.

DeWitt is scheduled to return to court July 13 for a progress report.

Soumya Karlamangla is the city news editor.

APRIL 16, 2012

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