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Compentency trial under way for Mendocino teen accused of murder

Jurors began deliberating Wednesday to determine whether a Mendocino County teen is competent to stand trial for the murder of his sister?s ex-boyfriend.

Marcos Escareno, who was 14 when the crime occurred, is accused of shooting and killing Enoc Cruz, 21, outside his sister?s home on the Manchester Indian reservation.

His defense attorney, Katharine Elliott, sought the competency trial, saying he does not have the mental capability to assist her with his defense in a meaningful way.

Escareno has a low IQ, is immature and possibly suffers from post traumatic stress disorder from being abused as a child, psychologists for the defense testified during the trial.

Elliott said her client has trouble understanding court proceedings and remembering what she?s told him from one day to the next.

?I feel it?s more likely than not he?s incompetent,? Elliott told jurors during her closing arguments in the trial Wednesday.

Mendocino County Deputy District Attorney Matt Finnegan disagreed.

He said Escareno had no trouble understanding and answering questions when he took the stand during one of his court proceedings.

Psychiatric experts for the prosecution testified that any shortcomings Escareno has are insufficient to categorize him as incompetent for trial purposes.

?The evidence shows Mr. Escareno is competent to stand trial,? Finnegan said.


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