Accused Greyhound bus shooter back in Kern, another psychiatric exam scheduled

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man accused of fatally shooting a person and wounding five others aboard a Greyhound bus is back in Kern County after spending months confined in a state hospital for psychiatric treatment.

State hospital reports say Anthony Devonte Williams, 35, has been restored to competency, but his attorney Wednesday disputed the findings and asked another examination be performed.

Judge Michael G. Bush said Williams refused to speak with a psychiatrist earlier appointed by the court after his return to Kern County jail.

“Mr. Williams was having a bad day that day, didn’t understand what was going on,” defense attorney Jesse Whitten said.

Prosecutor Stephanie Ziegler called Whitten’s request a delay tactic, but Bush reappointed the psychiatrist Williams previously refused to see, telling the defendant it was in his best interest to speak with him.

A hearing is scheduled Dec. 2 to go over the psychiatrist’s findings and determine how to proceed.

Williams admitted opening fire on a bus traveling north on Interstate 5 in the early morning of Feb. 3, 2020, according to court documents.

Lurbis Elena Vence, 51, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died at the scene. Five others were wounded, one of them paralyzed from the chest down, the documents said.

Williams was forced off the bus and onto the shoulder of I-5, south of Fort Tejon Road, authorities said in court filings. California Highway Patrol officers arrested him without incident.

In March, Williams was found incompetent to stand trial. Criminal proceedings were suspended and he was transferred to a state hospital.

In determining competency, a judge weighs evidence, including the testimony of psychiatrists, in deciding whether a defendant understands the criminal proceedings against them and can assist in preparing a defense.

A witness who rode with Williams when they boarded a bus in San Diego said Williams tried talking to everyone on the bus and seemed “a little strange,” according to court filings. After switching buses in Los Angeles, Williams got increasingly loud as he talked to himself, witnesses said.

When a man got up to use the bathroom, Williams told him to sit down.

Then Williams said, “I’m gonna shoot,” a witness told police, and multiple gunshots followed. A witness reported hearing at least seven shots.

A passenger disarmed Williams and the 9mm handgun was given to the bus driver, who sped to the next exit and requested medical aid and law enforcement after Williams was removed, the documents said.

Williams has pleaded not guilty to murder and five counts of attempted murder. He has no prior record in Kern County.

A lawsuit filed against Greyhound alleging negligence on the part of the company in failing to implement adequate safety measures is scheduled for a hearing in February.

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