Man accused of stabbing priest to be evaluated again

| October 16, 2009

SINTON — A man accused of stabbing a Sinton priest will be evaluated again to determine whether he is competent to stand trial, likely delaying his trial to December, his attorney said.

District Judge Michael Welborn on Wednesday granted motions from prosecutors and defense lawyer David Stith for a psychiatrist to evaluate David Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, 36, was indicted by a San Patricio grand jury in July on an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge related to the stabbing of Father Shaji Varghese.

Varghese was stabbed repeatedly in May while standing in the side doorway of the sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church after celebrating Mass.

The evaluation will delay the trial set for Oct. 26, Stith said. Competency for trial is judged based on whether a defendant understands the judicial process.

Rodriguez, who has a history of mental issues, had two sessions with a psychologist. Rodriguez initially was judged incompetent. A later, more extensive evaluation deemed Rodriguez competent.

Both the prosecution and defense agreed that a psychiatrist needs to assess Rodriguez because a psychiatrist has a medical degree.

“A psychiatrist is appropriate, so I think that is what is being accomplished next,” District Attorney Patrick Flanigan said. “We have to get past the competency before any other matters can be addressed by the court.”

Rodriguez is likely to remain in the San Patricio County Jail because he has been unable to afford the $350,000 necessary to bond out, Stith said.

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Category: Church Security

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