A competency hearing was recently scheduled to determine if a Cortez woman is fit to stand trial for murder.
District Court Judge Todd Plewe ordered the May 6 competency hearing during a status conference on Thursday, March 20. He also suspended all criminal proceedings in the case, pending the results of an ongoing competency evaluation at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo. A final competency report is due April 30.
Valerie Espinoza, 38, is charged with second-degree murder for the Sept. 19 stabbing death of 62-year-old Charles Chaves.
At her arraignment last month, Espinoza pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Throughout those proceedings, the defendant repeatedly smiled, frowned, scowled, sobbed and even snarled – her emotions seeming to change moment to moment.
As a result of pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, the defendant waived her right to confidentiality, meaning mental health officials could testify as to anything relayed during her evaluation.
A Montezuma County grand jury indicted Espinoza on second-degree murder charges in October. Records show the victim was stabbed seven times in his upper torso with a butcher knife during an early morning attack inside the victim’s S. Madison Street home.