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Nevada City shooter declared unable to stand trial

Doug Mattson, Sun News Service

NEVADA CITY – Scott Thorpe’s next stop is likely a state mental hospital after a Nevada County Superior Court judge on Friday found him mentally incompetent to stand trial – at least for now.

Three doctors who earlier interviewed the alleged triple-murderer found him incompetent, but one of them, Judge John Darlington noted, believes Thorpe’s competency may be restored through treatment.

District Attorney Mike Ferguson said, from his experience in other cases, Thorpe could be returned to the county in four to six months to again face trial.

“I think he will be held to answer for his crimes,” he said. “It’s just a question of testing his condition, restoring his competency and resuming the proceedings.”

Public Defender Thomas Anderson maintained that Thorpe may never be competent.

To rule a defendant incompetent, a judge must find the defendant doesn’t understand the nature of the charges against him or her, or that he or she can’t rationally assist in his or her own defense.

Darlington found Thorpe understood the charges but, due to his mental disorder, couldn’t rationally assist Anderson.

Thorpe’s disorder wasn’t defined in court.

The judge didn’t say which doctor believed competency could be restored, but Ferguson later said he thought the doctor was Hadley Osran, a forensic psychiatrist at Atascadero State Hospital, where Thorpe will likely receive treatment.

Thorpe, who turned 41 on Sunday, is accused of killing three people and wounding two in back-to-back shootings in Nevada City and Grass Valley in January.

where he was an outpatient, and Lyon’s Restaurant near Grass Valley, which he allegedly believed poisoned him.

Friday’s ruling came as no surprise to many, but reactions varied.

“Just hold him. As long as he’s never released, I can live with that,” said Pablo Lopez, whose daughter, Daisy Switzer, was injured jumping from a second-floor window at Behavioral Health to escape the gunfire. “You want the case to go forward and get some sort of ruling, but it will happen.”

Tricia Gies, the ex-wife of slain Lyon’s assistant manager Mike Markle, said her courtroom observations of Thorpe didn’t mesh with the competency finding.

“I just don’t understand. Each time he gets more and more comfortable,” she said.

She earlier called him “disgusting. I hate him. I think he’s a monster.”

Reached by phone, Thorpe’s sister-in-law, Sharon Thorpe of Sacramento, called the ruling just.

“What we wanted to happen happened today because it’s the next step toward Scott receiving treatment,” she said.

She also hoped Thorpe’s time away from the county can help the victims’ families heal. “I just want them to know we’re really heartsick about that,” she said.

Her husband, Kent Thorpe, a Sacramento police officer, helped negotiate his brother’s surrender the day of the shootings.

A state mental health worker has 15 days to determine where Thorpe will receive treatment, although both lawyers expected it would be in Atascadero, which is near San Luis Obispo. A hearing will be held on that issue April 13.


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