A mentally ill Fresno man accused of stabbing three people in what police said was a random attack was sentenced Tuesday to a state hospital until he regains his sanity and no longer is a danger to society.
Jacob Velasquez, 25, said nothing when his sentence for three counts of attempted murder was announced in Fresno County Superior Court.
His attorney, Mark Broughton, said Velasquez suffers from schizophrenia and “is extremely remorseful and sorry” for what happened in April 2014.
Two of his victims, however, told Judge Brian Alvarez that Velasquez needed to go to prison.
“Regardless of his remorse and how sorry he is, he can’t take back the blood that was spilled that night,” victim Dayshia Nixon said.
Since the unprovoked attack, Nixon said she has had many sleepless nights and is afraid to go outside. “I’m always looking over my shoulder,” she told the judge.
Nixon also told Alvarez that if his daughter were one of the victims then Velasquez would surely go to prison.
Regardless of his remorse and how sorry he is, he can’t take back the blood that was spilled that night.
Dayshia Nixon, one of three stabbing victims
But Alvarez said that he was bound by the law and doctors’ reports that say Velasquez is severely mentally ill and not guilty by reason of insanity.
“It was truly a random act of violence,” Alvarez said in sentencing Velasquez to a state hospital for up to 21 years or until his sanity is restored.
By law, he must stay in the state hospital at least six months, Broughton said.
Afterward, Nixon consoled her crying sister, Velvet Garcia, who also was stabbed by Velasquez. Their mother, Juanita Garcia, hugged her two daughters and said: “There was nothing we could do. It was a done deal, so let’s get on with our lives. It’s now in God’s hands.”
Police said Velasquez stabbed the victims on April 23, 2014, at the Sandalwood Apartments at Willow and Ashlan avenues. Velasquez lived at the apartments and at the time of the attack police said it was unknown why Velasquez attacked the victims near the apartment pool. All three victims suffered serious wounds, police said.
Soon after, criminal proceedings against Velasquez were suspended when his lawyer called into question his competency to assist in his defense.
In July 2014, Alvarez ruled that Velasquez was legally incompetent to stand trial. Alvarez made the decision after reading reports from psychiatrists Dr. Howard Terrell and Dr. Luis Velosa, who examined the defendant at the court’s request. Velasquez was then sent to a state hospital, where staff treated his mental illness with medication.
It was truly a random act of violence.
Judge Brian Alvarez
In March this year, Velasquez returned to the Fresno County Jail to enter a plea. On March 16, he admitted to the attack, but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Alvarez accepted the plea after reading the doctors reports that found Velasquez insane at the time of the attack.
“He clearly didn’t know what he was doing,” Broughton said Tuesday after Velasquez was sentenced.
On the day of the attack, Velasquez had a mental breakdown and began to hallucinate and hear voices, Broughton said. He was so delusional he thought one of the victims was a witch who was after him, the defense lawyer said. He stabbed one victim with a hunting knife. The other two people were stabbed when they came to the victim’s aid, he said.
In total, at least four doctors said Velasquez was severely mentally ill, Broughton said. “That’s why the prosecution did not object to the sentence,” he said.