An Orange County Superior Court judge Friday ruled that the defendant in the mass shooting of four people in Orange in March is too incapacitated by a gunshot wound to the head to assist in his criminal proceedings, so his case has been placed on hold indefinitely.
Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez will be soon placed in a medical care facility to see if his caretakers can restore his health enough for him to assist in his legal defense.
A hearing was set for Dec. 1 to get an update on where state officials will place Gonzalez as he recuperates from the wound he sustained from police as the defendant allegedly stormed a real estate company in Orange on March 31.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Cheri Pham told tearful family members of the victims of the shootings that she had no other options under the circumstances.
Experts for the defense and prosecutors agreed Gonzalez was unable to assist in his defense, and prosecutors got a third opinion from a forensic neuropsychologist who specializes in brain trauma, who also agreed to the defendant’s limitations.
The legal proceedings to determine competency usually involve defendants with mental health issues, but in this case Gonzalez’s limitations are owed to physical wounds. He has been compared to a stroke patient who has lost his ability to communicate effectively.
Four relatives of the victims spoke of how the shootings have affected them and how frustrated they are at the halt in legal proceedings.
“Everything that is happening now is beyond everyone’s control,” Pham explained. “But I understand the frustration and I certainly can’t even begin to understand what the families are going through.”
Raquel Ramirez, the aunt of 9-year-old Matthew Farias, who was killed in the attack, said her nephew “didn’t have rights, but this defendant has rights.”
She added, “I hope this moves faster because the justice we’re not getting is tearing this family apart.”
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said he and the lead prosecutor on the case, Mena Guirguis, have tried to explain to the families how the law has tied their hands.
“But, certainly, we can understand their frustration,” Spitzer told Pham.
Officials will periodically check Gonzalez to determine if he is ready to return to defending himself in court. If they cannot restore his health within two years, then officials will have to consider placing the defendant into a conservatorship and his case will be suspended indefinitely until the status of his health improves.
The charges against Gonzalez include four counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder of a police officer and one count of attempted murder.
Gonzalez also faces a special-circumstance allegation of multiple murders and sentence enhancements alleging the personal discharge of a firearm causing death, premeditation, personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, personal use of a firearm and personal discharge of a firearm.
Police say Gonzalez specifically targeted Unified Homes, a real estate company selling manufactured homes, at 202 W. Lincoln Ave., and was acquainted either personally or professionally with all of the victims, who were identified by police as 50-year-old company co-owner Luis Tovar; his daughter, 28-year-old Jenevieve Raygoza; 9-year-old Matthew Farias; and company employee Leticia Solis Guzman, 58.
Raygoza, who worked for her father’s company, is survived by her husband and two young children. The 9-year-old boy’s mother, Blanca Ismeralda Tamayo, was hospitalized in critical condition, but has since been released from the hospital.