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Noe Herrera


Defense counsel representing a Lompoc man charged with murder and assault has declared doubt on her client's competency to stand trial, and a medical evaluation has been ordered.

Noe Herrera, 32, last year pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity for going on a crime spree after allegedly killing a man, identified as Salvador Hernandez, and assaulting his mother three years ago. He most recently picked up a misdemeanor charge while in custody -- battery on a peace officer on July 9. 

On Thursday morning at the Santa Maria Superior Court, Senior Deputy Public Defender Lori Pedego stated that potential settlement discussions between the defense and prosecution were not successful nor were her discussions with Herrera. As a result, Pedego declared doubt about his mental competency.

Herrera's criminal proceedings have been suspended until appointed doctors are able to fully evaluate him and submit reports of their findings. Herrera's case returns to court Dec. 6 for review of reports. 

When doubt is declared as to the mental competency of the defendant, two psychologists are appointed, who then evaluate the defendant. Depending on the results of the evaluations, the court can either declare the defendant incompetent or competent to stand trial. 

Herrera's charges stem from his initial arrest on Jan. 20, 2015, in Lompoc after police responded to an argument between Herrera and his mother, which turned physical, according to officials. 

The next day, Herrera allegedly began assaulting his cellmate while in custody. The cellmate sustained minor injuries and required medical attention. At that point, Herrera was charged with battery causing serious bodily injury.

Later that day, when police were following up their investigation into Herrera's original arrest, he was linked to Hernandez's death. 

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Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210