OGDEN -- Jeremy Valdes' possibly troubled frontal lobes look likely to delay his trial start-up next month.
That would bump the trial on multiple charges in a double homicide in Roy to four years after the slayings. Valdes faces the death penalty in the Nov. 25, 2009, killings of Matthew Roddy, 30, and Roddy's mother, Pamela Jeffries, 56.
Their bodies were found stuffed in a closet in their Roy mobile home. Delays in the case have been typical of any death penalty proceeding with the necessary myriad defense motions.
At a hearing Tuesday to discuss final trial preparations and a pending motion on a false confessions expert, Valdes' public defenders filed a new motion seeking to delay the Sept. 17 -- Nov. 7 trial.
A psychological evaluation and the results of an MRI on Valdes received just last week point to evidence of "mental deficiencies" in the 36-year-old defendant due to his abuse of prescription drugs, according to the motion.
"We need time to investigate whether the potential mental deficiencies would affect the voluntary nature of the alleged confession and raise the possibility of a diminished capacity defense," Randall Marshall, Valdes' public defender, along with Gary Barr, said after Tuesday's hearing.
Another hearing was set for Thursday by 2nd District Judge Mark DeCaria for oral arguments on the possible trial reset.
Psych tests place Valdes' perceptual reasoning index in the lower than average range, according to the motion. "It reflects a weakness in frontal lobe executive functions including planning, organization and execution of effective goal-directed responses."
The MRI results "reflect that there is abnormality in Mr. Valdes' brain activation patterns," reads the motion. Which leads to an overall conclusion that Valdes suffers from a "neuropathological dysfunction stemming from long-term abuse of opioid drugs."
Valdes' was on probation at the time of the killings for his 2008 conviction for running a prescription drug distribution ring out of Clearfield.
Roy police obtained a taped confession from Valdes played in court at his preliminary hearing in 2010 that included his descriptions of stabbing Roddy repeatedly. But after a suppression motion, argued over the course of a year stretching from 2010 to July 2011, the confession was thrown out over a flawed Miranda warning.
DeCaria ruled the statements could not be used for the prosecution's "case-in-chief," but could be aired in rebuttal if Valdes elected to take the stand to testify in his own defense. For that reason Valdes' public defenders have been pressing for several months now for authorization to hire a false confessions expert. That motion points to a 2004 study that found of 271 defendants exonerated through DNA testing, 25 percent had confessed.
Valdes allegedly turned on Roddy and Jeffries when they threatened to call police after he stole Jeffries' prescription pain killers. An autopsy counted 31 knife wounds in Roddy's body. Jeffries had severe head injuries but died from asphyxiation.
Valdes had been staying in Jeffries' trailer, along with girlfriend Miranda Statler. Statler has already been sent to prison after pleading guilty to lesser charges in the killings and testifying against Valdes.