A private attorney was appointed Monday to defend an Orange County Jail inmate accused of killing two cell mates in separate incidents, court officials said.
Municipal Court Judge C. Robert Jameson ordered attorney Milton Grimes to defend Jerry Thomas Pick, 24, who is accused of killing John Frank Wilcox, 71, on Jan. 17 and strangling Arthur Oviedo, 25, two weeks later.
The men individually had been sharing a cell in the jail infirmary with Pick at the time of their deaths. It was after Oviedo's suspicious death that prosecutors discovered that Pick also had been a cell mate to Wilcox, and they decided to reopen an investigation into the earlier death.
Pick's previous defense attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael Giannini, said Pick was mentally disturbed to the point of inability to tell reality from fantasy. His condition is the result of an auto accident six years ago, while he and a date were on their way to their high school prom in Ohio, the public defender said.
Pick was housed in Orange County Jail on robbery charges when the jail deaths occurred. His arraignment on two counts of murder was rescheduled for March 20 in Central Municipal Court.