Man accused of stabbing priest to undergo further psych testing

| September 15, 2009

SINTON — The man accused of stabbing a Sinton priest will undergo further psychological testing to determine if he is competent to stand trial.

David Rodriguez, 36, was indicted by a San Patricio grand jury in July on an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge related in the stabbing of Father Shaji Varghese. Varghese was stabbed repeatedly while standing in the side doorway of the sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.

Rodriguez, who was arrested less than an hour after the stabbing, has been found incompetent to stand trial in a preliminary report by psychologist Paul Hamilton. But his attorney David Stith and prosecutors agreed during a pretrial hearing Monday morning, that Rodriguez will undergo further testing by Hamilton.

Rodriguez, who has remained in the San Patricio County Jail since the incident, said during the hearing before District Judge Mike Welborn that he will cooperate with Hamilton for the testing. Prosecutor Retha Cable also has a pending motion to allow Rodriguez to be examined by a state expert on competency.

Rodriguez’s case is set for a jury trial on Oct. 26 pending further evaluation for competency, Cable said.

Competency for trial is judged based on whether a defendant understands the judicial process. He or she must know the officers of the court and their roles such as who the judge is and what he does as well as prosecutor and attorney responsibilities, among other things, said Dr. Nestor Praderio, a local psychiatrist experienced in competency evaluations.

If Rodriguez is judged competent to stand trial, he then could be evaluated for insanity, which could then be used for his defense.

If he is not found competent, Rodriguez will be sent to a state hospital for the mentally ill to try and restore him to competency to try him, Stith said.

Rodriguez is expected to appear in court again on Oct. 14, where his competency could be discussed, Cable said. 

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Category: Church Security

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