Doctors testify on murder suspect’s competency

April 14, 2011

Lee Leeds

Doctors from Patton State Hospital testified in Santa Maria today that Lee Leeds is competent to stand trial for the murder of four people including his father. [KSBY]

In March 2008, Lee Leeds reportedly shot the four men 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.

During a 2005 interview, Robert Leeds said he worried how his schizophrenic son would handle Lewis’ trial and lamented over laws that prohibited him from forcibly hospitalizing his son during breakdowns.

At today’s hearing, the prosecution played an audio recording from an interview Friday between Leeds and his two doctors who asked him about his mental state.

“I think you’ve been successful,” Leeds said. “I don’t hear voices anymore. I’m feeling pretty collected now.”

He noted that pleading not guilty by reason of insanity meant a person wasn’t in the right state of mind at the time of their crime.

“I’d like to make it to trial and have all the issues discussed and have all the facts come out,” Leeds added.

In order to be found competent to stand trial, a defendant must understand the court procedures and be able to assist in their own defense.

If the court finds Leeds not guilty by reason of insanity, the court would order him to return to a mental health facility. He would not face prison time or the death penalty.

The competency hearing is expected to wrap up on Friday.