HANFORD, Calif. (KGET) — A judge in Kings County on Wednesday ruled Jamie Osuna is competent to stand trial in the death of his cellmate and ordered criminal proceedings reinstated.
The ruling comes more than a year after a psychiatrist found Osuna had been restored to competency after spending months in a state hospital. In determining competency, a judge decides whether a defendant understands the charges against them and can assist counsel in preparing a defense.
Defense lawyer Hugo Gomez-Vidal told the court Osuna did not dispute the psychiatrist’s findings. The attorney asked Osuna a couple questions to confirm he was giving up his right to another competency hearing.
Also Wednesday, attorney Ralph Kaelble was appointed Osuna’s co-counsel. He appeared via Zoom.
Osuna is due back in court in November for a pretrial hearing.
Osuna, 34, is accused of killing Corcoran State Prison cellmate Luis Romero, 44, the night of March 8, 2019. Romero was decapitated and other body parts were removed. Guards discovered the grisly scene after ordering Osuna to remove a sheet placed over the window of the cell.
At the time of Romero’s death, Osuna was serving life without parole for the torture-slaying of Yvette Pena in Bakersfield. He pleaded guilty in 2017 to first-degree murder and other charges filed in Pena’s killing.
He’s eligible for the death penalty but prosecutors have previously said they would wait until a preliminary hearing is held to decide whether to seek death.
Last year, criminal proceedings were suspended when a judge ruled Osuna incompetent to stand trial after hearing testimony from two psychiatrists. Osuna was transferred to a psychiatric inpatient program for treatment, where psychiatrists in May of 2021 said he had been restored to competency.
Osuna’s previous attorneys contested those findings, leading to multiple postponements.