Two schizophrenic murder suspects competent to stand trial

March 23, 2011

Andrew Downs

Two schizophrenic men who murdered multiple people have been found competent to stand trial.

On Christmas night, Andrew Downs, 20, allegedly shot and killed sisters Kathy Yeager and Beverly Reilly in Santa Margarita. During a ten hour period, he is also accused of stealing three vehicles, entering a second home in Santa Margarita and beating a man with a crescent wrench.

During his arrest, Downs told officers he needed to go to a mental hospital to get his medicine, which he had run out of three days earlier, police said.

After several doctors who evaluated Downs mental state came back with different findings, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge John Trice found Downs competent to stand trial. Competency means a defendant can participate in his own defense.

“I find at this time, Mr. Downs is presently able to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings against him,” Trice said on Tuesday.

Last week, doctors from Patton State Hospital said Lee Leeds, also a schizophrenic, is now competent to stand trial for murder.

In March 2008, Lee Leeds reportedly shot and killed four men, including his father, Robert Leeds, at his father’s Black Road Auto junkyard in Santa Maria. On the same day, a San Luis Obispo County judge determined Freddie Lewis should be tried for the murder of Sharon Ostman, the younger Leeds’ mother.

Ostman’s half-naked body was found partially submerged in the San Luis Obispo Creek near Broad Street on July 11, 2005. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted, and murdered. She was 59.

Lee Leeds

When Robert Leeds was interviewed in 2005 by a reporter now with CalCoastNews regarding the Ostman murder, he lamented over the effect his ex-wife’s murder would have on their four children. He also said that Ostman and two of their children suffered from schizophrenia.

In 2008, a judge ruled Leeds was not competent to stand trial and sent him to Patton State Hospital, a mental-health treatment facility in San Bernardino County.

In March 2010, mental health professionals at Patton found Leeds competent to stand trial and transferred him back to Santa Barbara County Jail. A few months later, a judge found him again not competent to stand trial and sent Leeds back to Patton.

In response to last weeks competency report from Patton, a hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Santa Maria before Superior Court Judge Edward Bullard.


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6 Comments

  1. justme says:

    Trice is nuttier than this kid if he thinks any competence is present in him. This kid has been in Special Ed. in Atas. for yrs.
    Hey Trice, what’s up? You’re supposed to be able to read peoples faces, body language and speech patterns, Are you looking at the kid or employment oppurtunities for the legal staff and lawyers who obviously come first?
    No answer needed, got it.

    (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
    • SLOBIRD says:

      I thought it was the psychiatrist not the judge who was to determine whether Mr. Downs was mentally competent to understand the nature of the charges against him and be able to assist in his defense as this determines his mental competence.and therefore will have a trial. The court appointed two psychiatists and one said yes he was while the other said no he wasn’t and so came the third. Judge Trice, as a judge not a psychiatrist, (who I don’t know) does not make this determination. This is a very tragic situation for both families involved in this matter. This is a direct result of Reagan actions as governor and the legal system who find the hands tied. From what I have heard, Mr. Downs family has dealt with this for years, sought help, and as parents did everything they could for their son and the community.

      (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
      • Bert says:

        “After several doctors who evaluated Downs mental state came back with different findings, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge John Trice found Downs competent to stand trial. Competency means a defendant can participate in his own defense.

        “I find at this time, Mr. Downs is presently able to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings against him,” Trice said on Tuesday.”

        -It sounds like Trice had the final decision, based on recommendations/findings of the psychiatrists.
        IMO, this guy should be sent up to a place like ASH for life. Isn’t that what the place was built for?

        (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  2. Citizen says:

    When is the public going to demand a better way to treat and tract schizophrenics? How many people have to be murdered before we get the point that what we are doing now doesn’t work. Schizophrenics cannot be depended upon to take their medication, after all, they are mentally ill. We don’t send cancer patients home to administer their own chemotherapy, why do we send schizophrenics out to keep track of their own medication.

    (18) 18 Total Votes - 18 up - 0 down
    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      Maybe so we don’t enfringe on a person with schizophrenia’s rights, they could come up with a ankle monitoring devise, that a person who might be a potential problem, could wear (so they could go anywhere) and it would montitor if it reads their meds in their system. Kind of like the alcohol monitoring type they have.

      (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
    • zaphod says:

      why do we send schizophrenics out to keep track of their own medication ?
      Those programs were among the very first eliminated by the Reagan Bush admin. Once upon a time(before1980) we took care of ourselves .

      (11) 15 Total Votes - 13 up - 2 down

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