Nevada County judge orders mental evaluation for Penn Valley murder suspect
A Nevada County judge on Thursday, Sept. 21, suspended the murder case against Robert Steuber, finding him incompetent and ordering a psychiatric evaluation to determine when the 82-year-old man might understand the criminal accusations against him.
Steuber, accused in the July shooting death of Sandra Lebarron, is scheduled to return Oct. 19 to Superior Court once the evaluations are complete. At that time attorneys and the judge will see what doctors recommend to restore Steuber’s competency, his ability to comprehend the criminal proceedings against him and if he needs anti- psychotic medication.
Hard of hearing and in a wheelchair, Steuber repeatedly spoke during Thursday’s proceedings despite pleadings from his defense attorney that he remain silent.
“Well, you know, I don’t know who did all this stuff but I have an IQ of 160-something, sir,” Steuber said, referring to an initial report that raises questions about his competency. “I’ve never had a mental breakdown in my life.”
That initial report led Judge Robert Tice-Raskin to request answers to a handful of questions in another evaluation, including if medication is necessary and whether Steuber can make decisions about that medicine. The judge also wants to know if Steuber, left untreated, could hurt himself physically and mentally.
Chris Walsh, assistant district attorney, said after the hearing that the evaluation will include what facility, if needed, Steuber should visit to have his competency restored.
“I’ve never been charged with a 5150,” Steuber said at one point, referring to a law about mental illness. “I do have a weird sense of humor. I used to be a stand-up comic in places. Things just come out funny with me.”
Authorities accuse Steuber of fatally shooting Lebarron during an argument at their Penn Valley home. Steuber left the argument, retrieved a handgun and returned, shooting Lebarron multiple times.