Jury finds murder defendant mentally competent to stand trial

Jury says competent

EL CENTRO, Calif. - The jury in the mental competency trial of murder defendant Ioan Laurint gave their verdict on Thursday at El Centro Courthouse after deliberating for less than three hours.

Imperial County Assistant District Attorney Deborah D. Owen said the jury “found that the defendant was competent to stand trial. It will be sent back to Judge Plourd for trial.”

The verdict was unanimous.

“I think it was a combination of the totality of the circumstances. The defendant, while he mumbled in court and tried to appear incompetent, the evidence suggested that he was faking his symptoms. He’s able to communicate with the jail phone calls, he communicates in writing through the paperwork that he’s filed at the jail,” Owen said.

Defense Attorney Donald Levine said he was disappointed with the jury’s decision.

“When competency is in question, the criminal proceedings are suspended until that question is resolved. Now that it’s been resolved it’ll go back to Judge Plourd to whom it’s been assigned for all purposes to start the criminal proceedings again,” Levine said.

50-year-old Ioan Laurint is accused in the murder of attorney Anne Mariz Zimmerman. She was found stabbed to death early last year at a local motel with Laurint lying reportedly unconscious next to her.

Pre-trial is set for October 18th and the criminal trial starts November 27. Laurint is being held in custody at the local county jail on a one million-dollar bond.

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