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United States v. Garcia-Gastelum

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 15, 2016

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Francisco Garcia-Gastelum, Defendant.

          USA, Plaintiff, represented by David Patrick Savel, U.S. Attorneys Office.


          D. THOMAS FERRARO, Magistrate Judge.

         Pursuant to a request by Defendant's counsel, the Court conducted a competency proceeding which took place on September 9 and September 13, 2016. (Docs. 35, 40, 15-01308-RCC-DTF) Defendant was present and represented by counsel. The matter was taken under advisement following the testimony. (Doc. 40, 15-01308-RCC-DTF; Doc. 115, 14-00507-RCC-DTF)

         Having considered the entirety of the record, including all written competency evaluations, testimony and all exhibits, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the District Court, after its independent review, find by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant is competent to proceed to trial.


         The case before the Court has a long and circuitous history, which the Court considered in reaching its findings.

          Garcia-Gastelum I

         In February 2014, Francisco Garcia-Gastelum ("Defendant") was arrested and charged with illegal reentry of a removed alien. (Docs. 1 and 5, United States v. Francisco Garcia-Gastelum, 14-00507-RCC-DTF (" Garcia-Gastelum I ")). In Garcia-Gastelum I, attorney Matthew McGuire was appointed to represent Defendant. (Doc. 3, Garcia-Gastelum I ). Defendant was tried and convicted. (Docs. 49, 50, 58, Garcia-Gastelum I ). As noted in the Presentence Report in Garcia-Gastelum I, Defendant had, years earlier, been diagnosed with depression and psychotic features, but Defendant claimed he had not suffered any major psychological incidents since 2001. (Doc. 72 at ¶ 35, Garcia-Gastelum I ). On March 13, 2015, Defendant was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment with three years' supervised release. (Docs. 75, 76, 77, Garcia-Gastelum I ). On March 19, 2015, Defendant filed a notice of appeal. (Doc. 78, Garcia-Gastelum I ).

          Garcia-Gastelum II

         On June 23, 2015, Defendant was again arrested for allegedly committing a new violation of illegal reentry of a removed alien. (Doc. 1, United States v. Garcia-Gastelum, 4:15-cr-01308-RCC (DTF) (" Garcia-Gastelum II ")) Attorney Henry Jacobs was appointed to represent Defendant. (Doc. 4, Garcia-Gastelum II ) Thereafter, the grand jury returned an indictment charging Defendant with the offense of illegal reentry of a removed alien. (Doc. 6, Garcia-Gastelum II ) At the time of Defendant's arrest, he was still serving his term of supervised release in Garcia-Gastellum I. (Doc. 77, Garcia-Gastelum I ) As such, on September 4, 2015, probation field a Petition to Revoke Supervised release. (Doc. 88, Garcia-Gastelum I ). Attorney Henry Jacobs was appointed to represent Defendant in the supervised release matter, while attorney Matthew McGuire continued to represent Defendant in his appeal before the Ninth Circuit. (Doc. 90, Garcia-Gastelum I ).

         On September 18, 2015, Defendant moved the Court for an order directing that a competency examination be performed by Dr. Barry Morenz. (Doc. 14, Garcia-Gastelum II ) Defendant's request was granted (Doc. 15, Garcia-Gastelum II ) and, on January 5, 2016, the Court held a status conference regarding Defendant's competency. (Doc. 20, Garcia-Gastelum II ). Dr. Morenz's report was received by the Court and filed under seal. (Doc. 21, Garcia-Gastelum II ). Based on Dr. Morenz's findings the Court ordered Defendant committed to the custody of the Attorney General to be hospitalized for a reasonable period of time for restoration. (Doc. 22, Garcia-Gastelum II ).

         On July 25, 2016, the matter came back before the Court for status regarding Defendant's mental competency. (Doc. 28, Garcia-Gastellum II ) A Psychiatric Report and Certificate of Restoration of Competency to Stand Trial ("Psychiatric Report") were filed under seal without objection. (Docs. 28, 29, Garcia-Gastelum II ). Defense counsel objected to the findings contained in the Psychiatric Report (Doc. 31) and the Court granted Defendant's request for an evidentiary hearing on the matter. (Doc. 33, Garcia-Gastelum II ).


         At Defendant's request and to accommodate witness schedules, the evidentiary was postponed until September 9, 2016. (Doc. 30, 32, 34, 35, Garcia-Gastelum II ) On September 9, 2016, Dr. Robin Watkins, a Board Certified Forensic Psychologist, testified by telephone. (Doc. 36, Garcia-Gastelum II ). Dr. Watkins was assigned to Defendant's case at the Federal Medical Center and had almost daily contact with him. Dr. Watkins testified consistent with her Psychiatric Report, dated June 8, 2016, which found that Defendant suffered from "Schizophrenia Spectrum" with "antisocial personality features." (Doc. 29 at p. 12, Garcia-Gastelum II )[1] While at the Federal Medical Center Defendant was prescribed, and began voluntarily taking, psychotropic medication. ( Id. at p. 8). According to Dr. Watkins, she saw an improvement in Defendant after he began taking the ...

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