YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Psychiatric Tests Ordered in Hate Crime Killing

September 23, 2000

VAN NUYS — A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Friday ordered a psychiatric evaluation for a white woman charged with murder and hate crimes after she allegedly used her car to run over and kill a Latino man earlier this month.

Marie Elise West, 35, of Hermosa Beach is the first person in Los Angeles County to be charged under a state law permitting capital punishment for a hate crime slaying, according to the district attorney's office.

The law applies to anyone who intentionally kills another because of that person's race, color, religion, nationality or country of origin.

Judge Michael M. Duffey suspended the criminal case pending the outcome of a psychiatric evaluation. The examination is to be conducted by two psychiatrists--one selected by the defense, the other by the prosecution--who will advise the court on West's competency to stand trial.

Duffey was interrupted repeatedly by West, who was in a holding area off the courtroom out of view of the spectator's gallery.

"I refuse to enter a plea!' West bellowed. "I refuse to enter a plea!"

Duffey repeatedly assured West that she was not being asked to enter a plea. He set a hearing in the court's psychiatric unit for Oct. 11.

West is charged with repeatedly running her car over Jesus Plascensia, 65, in the parking lot next to a Van Nuys bagel bakery Sept. 1. Authorities said witnesses heard her make comments about her hatred of persons of Latino origin.

Los Angeles Times Articles