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Kidnaping Suspect Believes He Is Jesus, Attorney Says

May 24, 1994|DWAYNE BRAY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A former oil-field worker who is charged with kidnaping a Ventura auto salesman during a test drive and later leading police on a chase to Universal City believes he is Jesus and cannot help in his own criminal defense, a public defender said Monday.

Deputy Public Defender Stephen P. Lipson entered pleas of not guilty in Ventura County Municipal Court during an arraignment for defendant Daryl Lynn Simpson, 32, who is charged with kidnaping and auto theft.

Municipal Court Judge Steven Hintz ordered a hearing today to determine if a psychologist should be appointed in the case.

Defendants are considered incompetent if schizophrenia or other mental problems leave them incapable of assisting in their own defense, lawyers said.

Police say Simpson was test-driving a black $27,000 Camaro Z-28 from Paradise Chevrolet on Victoria Avenue when he told salesman Russell Phelps that he was God and wanted to go to radio station KLOS in Los Angeles.

He drove south on the Ventura Freeway to the San Fernando Valley, they said. Phelps escaped in Encino when Simpson exited the freeway to make a phone call.

Los Angeles police spotted the car in Van Nuys, triggering a chase in which speeds reached 90 m.p.h. Simpson was finally arrested when the car's tire flattened after he exited the freeway and struck a curb on a dead-end street in Universal City.

Lipson said family members first began noticing Simpson's mental problems about eight months ago. Before that, Simpson appeared to be living a normal life, Lipson said. He had a girlfriend and held various jobs doing oil-field work, the lawyer said.

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