Cleveland HS shooting suspect’s competency to stand trial questioned

New Mexico News

The attorney for the teen who shot a gun inside a Rio Rancho High School on Valentine’s Day said his client may not be competent to stand trial, according to court documents.

Attorney Steven Archibeque filed a motion on Feb. 22 for 16-year-old Joshua Owen to take a forensic evaluation.

“He’s got some serious mental health issues so at this point we want to find out everything about Joshua and what happened,” Archibeque said after Owen’s first court appearance on Feb. 18. “I’m going to raise competency and then we’ll go from there.”

The search warrant said Owen claims he was hearing voices that told him to carry out the Cleveland High School shooting around 7 a.m. on Feb. 14 when he fired off a gun in a hallway.

Luckily, no one was injured.

Police later found and arrested him in an arroyo about a mile from campus, and found Owen’s so-called hit list of targets, including Owen’s ex-girlfriend.

The motion for the forensic evaluation filed in late February states Owen’s attorney believes the teen may not be competent for trial based on Owen’s inability to understand the charges against him; his inability to communicate with Archibeque or retain information.

The state fought the motion, claiming the defense is making “psychological conclusions and judgments” about Owen’s competency.

“We don’t have anything that says the child has caused problems before and heard voices in his head,” Sandoval County District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said. “If we find out that things like this have happened before, we’re going to have to go back to those agencies and find out why we didn’t know about it and why we couldn’t do more to avoid the situation.”

But, the court granted the request for the evaluation to be complete by April 4.

“We’re not against that,” Martinez continued. “It’s no problem, it’s just that we want a basis for it as opposed to, ‘We want to do it just to do it.'”

Archibeque has asked that the results of the competency evaluation stay sealed. Depending on the results of the evaluation, the state has requested that Owen be sentenced as an adult.

Owen is still being held at the Bernalillo County Youth Detention Center. His competency hearing is set for April 11.

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