Osuna arraigned on new charge, competency hearing postponed to January

Crime Watch

HANFORD, Calif. (KGET) — Jamie Osuna, accused of decapitating his cellmate in 2019, pleaded not guilty Monday to another charge filed against him while in custody.

Osuna, appearing by video from inside a cage at California State Prison — Sacramento, pleaded not guilty to making terroristic threats. The charge stems from an incident that occurred June 28. No further details were revealed.

Also, Melina Benninghoff, Osuna’s attorney, was granted a request to postpone a hearing on her client’s competency to stand trial. She said she plans to speak by phone with Osuna Tuesday and visit him in prison by the end of the month to prepare for the hearing, in which she indicated she won’t object to psychiatrists’ reports saying he is competent.

Kings County Superior Court Judge Randy Edwards scheduled the hearing for Jan. 24. In determining competency, a judge reviews evidence, including psychiatrists’ reports, and decides whether a defendant understands the charges against them and can assist counsel in the preparation of a defense.

Osuna, 33, was charged with murder and other crimes in the death of cellmate Luis Romero, 44, at Corcoran State Prison. Romero was beheaded and other body parts were removed.

At the time of Romero’s death, Osuna was serving life without parole for the torture and killing of Yvette Pena in Bakersfield. He pleaded guilty in 2017 to first-degree murder and other charges filed in Pena’s killing. 

Earlier this year, criminal proceedings were suspended in the Romero case when Edwards ruled Osuna incompetent to stand trial after hearing testimony from two psychiatrists. Osuna was transferred to a psychiatric inpatient program for treatment.

In July, the court was notified psychiatrists who monitored Osuna’s behavior in the program had filed reports stating he had regained competency. Edwards is expected to rule on those findings next month and, if he finds Osuna competent, the Romero case will move forward and a date scheduled for a preliminary hearing.

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