BRIGHAM CITY — Prosecution of a Bothwell man in the alleged stabbing murder of his girlfriend is on hold pending a review of his mental competency to stand trial.
Jose Gutierrez-Torres, 40, stabbed Maria De Jesus Cervantes several times in the neck with a knife on March 3, then stabbed himself, police said after the man’s arrest.
After being released from a hospital, Gutierrez-Torres was charged by the Box Elder County Attorney’s Office with first-degree felony murder and unlawful possession of a non-firearm dangerous weapon, a class A misdemeanor.
On June 11, public defender Michael Studebaker filed a petition in 1st District Court asking that his client’s mental competency be evaluated.
Studebaker wrote that Gutierrez-Torres “has been intermittently severely depressed to the point of not being able to remember the events of this charge against him and incapable of comprehending the requests and questions from counsel regarding the facts of this case.”
He said his client “could not discuss the case and facts of the case with any sense of what was happening and as such is unable to fully comprehend the consequences of accepting a plea offer and complying with court orders.”
Judge Brandon Maynard approved the request for alienists to evaluate Gutierrez-Torres. A Sept. 9 hearing to review the findings is scheduled, if the study is complete by then.
Studebaker also secured approval from Maynard for his request that the Utah State Administrative Office of the Courts be required to pay for interpreter’s services.
Gutierrez-Torres does not speak English and he needs an interpreter in court and in discussions with his attorney, Studebaker said.
The county attorney’s office did not object to the request ask long as the AOC paid for the interpreter.
Studebaker said the 6th Amendment requires sufficient interpreter involvement to help guarantee a criminal defendant receives an adequate defense.
Officers said they found Cervantes’s body in a bedroom, face down and covered in blood. A bloody steak knife wrapped in a wash cloth was found near the 53-year-old woman’s head.
Cervantes’s daughter also told police she received a text message from her mother about 5 a.m. staying “Jose has a knife call the police.”
Gutierrez-Torres pleaded guilty to one count of domestic violence in the presence of a child and simple assault in 2008, according to court records. He faced similar charges twice in 2014 but those cases were dismissed.