Shandon murder defendant could be incompetent to stand trial

August 4, 2023

Justin Buchanan


A judge ruled Thursday that the Shandon man who stabbed to death his stepmother and wounded his father may not be competent to stand trial. [Tribune]

On the evening of July 17, 31-year-old Justin Buchanan allegedly stabbed his father William Buchanan, 52, and his stepmother Kelly Buchanan, 44, multiple times. Kelly Buchanan died from her injuries. William Buchanan sustained life-threatening injuries but survived. 

Deputies arrested Justin Buchanan and booked him in San Luis Obispo County Jail on a no-bail warrant for homicide.

Buchanan is facing felony charges of murder, attempted murder and assault. He also faces sentencing enhancements to each of the charges for the use of a deadly weapon — a knife. Buchanan could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of the offenses. 

On Thursday, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge George C. Eskin declared doubt that Buchanan currently has mental competency to stand trial. The declaration suspends Buchanan’s criminal case until a psychiatrist evaluates him and determines wether he can stand trial. Buchanan has not entered a plea to his charges. 

A psychiatrist is expected to evaluate Buchanan in the next 30 days. If found incompetent, his trial will be suspended until a psychiatrist declares his competency has been restored. 

The Shandon man’s next court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 24. He will remain in jail without bail prior to the upcoming hearing, Judge Eskin decided. 

Buchanan has a history of mental health struggles. In 2013, he was diagnosed with major depression with psychiatric features. 

He also has a history of violent outbursts and was twice arrested for domestic violence offenses. Following the arrests, he received probation sentences of four years and three years, court records show.

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Not competent to stand trial? I call bull crap on that. He was competent enough to stab his father and stepmom after which she died, [was murdered]. No, most likely he’s a product of drug use and violent video games that glorify gratuitous violence and killing.

He murdered his stepmom and almost his dad. He needs to be held accountable for his actions and have the fullest extent of the law applied here. It’s way too easy today to feign “mental illness” as a defense in cases like this.