Two schizophrenic murder suspects competent to stand trial
March 23, 2011
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.
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.