A judge today ordered a new psychiatric evaluation for a man suspected of fatally shooting two people at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf in January.
Hong Ri Wu, 56, is a Fisherman’s Wharf souvenir shop worker suspected of the Jan. 30 killing of a man and woman who worked at a neighboring business at 269 Jefferson St.
Investigators believe Feng Ping Ou, a 30-year-old woman, and Qiong Han Chu, a 30-year-old man, were fatally shot because of a rivalry between the two stores, which sold similar items.
Wu, a San Francisco resident, pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder, but in June, Judge Garrett Wong suspended criminal proceedings in the case after Wu’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kleigh Hathaway, said she had doubts about his ability to participate in his own defense.
Dr. Amy Watt, a forensic psychiatrist, was appointed to determine whether Wu was mentally competent, and her report in July concluded that he was not competent to stand trial.
But earlier this month, prosecutors said they were seeking to overturn the competency report on the grounds that Hathaway was present for part of the doctor’s examination.
Watt observed a 20-minute interaction between Wu and Hathaway as part of her evaluation.
The issue was addressed at a hearing this morning, in which prosecutor Ira Barg said Hathaway’s involvement in the evaluation was “improper.”
Hathaway countered by saying that it was a common practice, particularly “when a prong (of the competency argument) is whether a defendant is able to assist in their own defense.”
She said, “This is part of their known and accredited profession … they have to evaluate this relationship” between the defendant and client. She offered several other court-appointed psychologists who she said would testify that observing an interview is a normal part of an evaluation.
But Wong ruled to strike the report by Watt, saying Hathaway’s presence “colors her review and evaluation of the matter.”
He appointed another forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Brad Novak, to conduct a second evaluation, the results of which will be brought back to the court on Sept. 28.
The judge also ruled that Hathaway will have to submit a written motion to the court before participating in this second evaluation.
Outside of court, Hathaway said she was perplexed by the judge’s decision, and said she plans to appeal it.
Wu was not in court for today’s hearing, as is in a psychiatric ward because doctors have decided he is a danger to himself, Hathaway said.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News