Crime

Shooting spree suspect Kori Muhammad gets court date to determine competency

Accused Fresno shooting-rampage suspect Kori Ali Muhammad will stand trial on Jan. 8 to determine whether he is legally competent to face murder and attempted murder charges in connection with the spree that left four people dead in April.

Prosecutor Brian Hutchins and Muhammad’s attorney, Richard Beshwate Jr., on Thursday confirmed the Jan. 8 date in Fresno County Superior Court. Three court-appointed doctors who have examined Muhammad in jail will likely testify in the trial. Two of the doctors contend Muhammad is incompetent to stand trial.

The hearing will not determine whether Muhammad is guilty or innocent of the criminal charges. Rather, it will decide if he is competent enough to understand the charges against him.

Muhammad, 39, was arrested April 18 after police said he went on a shooting spree near downtown Fresno that left three men dead: Mark Gassett, David Jackson and Zackary Randalls. Muhammad also faces attempted murder charges for allegedly shooting at Stephen Walter, Michael Flores and Mark Greer during the spree. He also is charged with the murder of Motel 6 security guard Carl Allen Williams III, who was shot while working April 13.

At the time, Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said Muhammad confessed to the shooting rampage and to Williams’ murder. Dyer said Muhammad told police he decided to “kill as many people as he could” once he learned authorities were seeking him for Williams’ murder.

Beshwate has said his client has a documented history of schizophrenia.

Court records say Muhammad was found unfit in June to stand trial by psychologist Richard Kendall. After Kendall’s finding, the prosecution asked for a second opinion. Howard Terrell, a psychiatrist, was appointed by the court to examine Muhammad. Terrell also found Muhammad mentally unfit to stand trial.

The prosecution then hired psychologist Reid Meloy to examine Muhammad. Meloy found him mentally competent to stand trial. The 2-1 score would normally mean Muhammad would be sent to a state hospital for treatment. Instead, the prosecution has asked for a trial to determine Muhammad’s competency.

In a telephone interview from jail after his arrest, Muhammad said he went on his deadly rampage to draw attention to the plight of black women and children who have been kidnapped, raped, and killed by white people.

“This is bigger than me,” he told The Bee. “This is just a warning. If America does not treat black people right, it will be destroyed by God.”

In the rambling, hour-long interview, Muhammad also talked about voodoo, his mental illness, world destruction and the election of President Donald Trump. He showed no remorse for the victims and no fear of a possible death penalty. “They tell black people all the time to get over it. So I say get over it. There will be no pity party.”

Pablo Lopez: 559-441-6434, @beecourts

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