Calling it a "very close case," Ventura County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Storch ruled Thursday that an Oxnard man was not guilty by reason of insanity in the murder of his father.
The ruling means that Jesus G. Garcia Jr., 31, will be confined in a state mental institution indefinitely. Storch will determine Oct. 8 where Garcia will be hospitalized.
Last month in a non-jury trial, Storch found Garcia guilty of second-degree murder in the Memorial Day slaying of his father, Jesus Garcia Sr. Evidence showed that the son stabbed his father in the stomach as the elder man slept on a couch in the living room.
Garcia was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic seven years ago, according to his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Douglas W. Daily. He had been hospitalized and treated on an outpatient basis during that time, he said.
Daily said that during the sanity trial it was the opinion of four doctors that Garcia was legally insane at the time of the stabbing.
Storch said he also concluded that Garcia was not aware of "the nature and quality" of what he was doing when he killed his father, nor was he aware that it was wrong. He said it was clear that Garcia manifested the symptoms of paranoia and schizophrenia.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Carol J. Nelson, who argued that Garcia was sane at the time of the killing, also said it was a difficult case. "I think he committed the murder because of paranoid schizophrenia, but he committed it on purpose," she said. This was not a case, she said, where the defendant was pretending to be mentally ill.
The motive for the slaying is still unclear. Daily said that before the stabbing, Garcia mistakenly thought neighborhood boys were calling his name. Then at home he thought the television was talking to him, threatening him, he said.
Lou Matthews, a member of the Ventura-based Alliance for the Mentally Ill, said she was pleased that Garcia would receive treatment. "These people should never end up in the court system," she said.