Mental health officials testifying Monday in a competency hearing for a Santa Rosa man accused of stabbing his father to death said he was addicted to amphetamine pills he stole from his mother.
Houston Herczog, 21, stabbed Mark Herczog, 63, more than 50 times on Nov. 21. He was taking his mother's Adderall, a stimulant prescribed for certain mental disorders, testified Patricia Lynn Winters, a psychiatrist who works in the Sonoma County jail.
When Herczog was booked soon after the killing, he told a counselor he had stopped drinking alcohol but was stealing his mother's pills and had become addicted, she said.
He was overwhelmed by the events but appeared alert and "fully-oriented" with no obvious signs of psychosis, Winters said. "He wasn't seeing things that other people were not seeing."
Her comments came in a hearing to determine if Herczog can assist in his own defense against a charge of murder. Herczog sat with his head bowed throughout the daylong hearing, with family members including his mother watching from the audience.
His attorney, Karen Silver, said he has been unwilling to discuss details of the case and should be sent to a mental hospital for treatment.
Deputy District Attorney Bob Waner suggested Herczog could be faking a condition. He said through questioning that Herczog understands the legal proceedings and is fit for trial.
Two out of three doctors who examined Herczog agreed. On Monday, the holdout, Santa Rosa psychologist Steve Ranish, testified Herczog was too overcome by depression, anxiety and autistic spectrum disorder to help himself at trial.
He said Herczog fell into a drug-induced psychosis while under the influence of Adderall that made him believe people were robots.
Winters testified that he is suicidal and has threatened to stab out his eyes with a pencil. He has been held in a special observation cell but not the "rubber room," which is reserved for the most disturbed inmates, she said.
"I could not imagine him sitting in a courtroom delving into the minutia of killing his father," Ranish testified.
However, under cross-examination, Ranish admitted he never talked to Herczog directly about what happened or asked whether he understood the allegations.
Waner argued a complete competency evaluation did not occur.
"You don't know whether he is telling the truth other than your sense of these things?" Waner asked Ranish.
"I have to rely on that every day," Ranish replied.
The hearing continues Wednesday. Judge Julie Conger is expected to rule later this week.
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