The 66-year-old suspect in a Whitstran near-fatal shooting has been admitted to a state psychiatric hospital, three months after a judge found him incompetent.
Lucio Reyes Perez was transferred Thursday from the Benton County jail to Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake.
He’s expected to be there on a 90-day competency restoration order, though he could return earlier to Kennewick if his condition stabilizes with medication.
The move came just as Superior Court Judge Bruce Spanner was considering releasing Reyes Perez from custody because he felt the state of Washington may have been violating the defendant’s constitutional rights with the lengthy delay.
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Reyes Perez reportedly suffers from schizophrenia and has delusions, and has refused all mental health treatment for almost six months while in solitary confinement.
Spanner in mid-October ordered the state facility to pick up Reyes Perez within seven days after learning he was No. 31 on the wait list. But 1 1/2 months later, a hospital official said they had no room in the 30-bed facility, so Reyes Perez needed to wait his turn like everyone else.
Reyes Perez is charged in Benton County Superior Court with attempted first-degree murder. The charge involves premeditated intent and includes the allegation that he committed the felony while armed with a gun.
On June 19, Reyes Perez waited outside McCorkle’s Market on Rothrock Road until he saw Guillermo Salas-Lozano arrive. He knew it was the victim’s routine to stop by the store every day about 5:30 a.m.
Reyes Perez reportedly was angry with Salas-Lozano and had been planning to kill him for about two months, court documents said.
Reyes Perez yelled at the victim outside the market, called him a derogatory term, then fired two shots at him, documents said.
Salas-Lozano, then 34, was hit in the neck by one bullet. The alleged shooter was identified by witnesses and tracked down to a nearby home.
The case is on hold until Spanner determines Reyes Perez understands the nature of the proceedings and can help his attorneys at trial.
When Spanner learned in October that Reyes Perez still had at least 15 weeks before Eastern State would take him, he said prosecutors have the obligation to provide the defendant with due process, which includes restoring his rights in a timely manner.
At a hearing Tuesday, Spanner reportedly said he was outraged with the facility’s response and not impressed with the state’s inability to find a solution.
In the middle of that hearing, the court got word that a bed was available and the facility could take Reyes Perez on Thursday.
Spanner denied a defense motion to dismiss the case for now.
A review hearing is scheduled March 15.