Man accused of ax killing in El Cerrito found mentally incompetent to stand trial

MARTINEZ — A Bay Area man accused of sneaking up on another man and hacking him to death with an ax has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial, according to court records.

In a December order issued by Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Clare Maier ordered the Department of State Hospitals to admit Michael Ray-West Hill, 38, within 60 days. The order allows the DSH to treat Hill with medication if necessary and says his mental competency will be re-evaluated within 90 days of his commitment.

Hill’s commitment has a two-year cap, the order says. If his mental competency is deemed “restored” he will be returned to the jail to face charges of murder with use of an ax and lying in wait.

Hill is accused of murdering Larry Lawson Sr. in El Cerrito on March 30, 2019.

Authorities allege that Hill killed Lawson with an ax that he stole from Home Depot by stuffing in his pants and walking out the door. According to police, video surveillance shows Hill sneaking up on Lawson and attacking him with the ax without warning, at the 11300 block of San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito.

Police didn’t say at the time if Hill and Lawson knew each other, nor did they say whether detectives determined a suspected motive.

If the DSH fails to admit Hill within the 60-day timeframe, it could open itself to sanctions from a Contra Costa judge. That’s because of a 2016 order affecting criminal defendants in the county who were found mentally incompetent but languished in jail for weeks past the deadline, due to a hospital bed shortage.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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