A federal judge in Billings has ordered a mental competency exam for a Busby man accused of murder in the beating and burning death of a Crow Agency woman last year.
U.S. District Judge Susan Watters on Monday ordered Dimarzio Swade Sanchez, 19, to be transported to a federal Bureau of Prisons medical facility in Los Angeles where he will undergo a psychiatric or psychological exam. The evaluation is to be completed within 30 days, she said.
The judge also vacated a May 8 trial date until further notice.
Watters granted a defense request for the exam after finding there was “reasonable cause” to believe Dimarzio Sanchez may be suffering from a mental disease that could make him incompetent to understand “the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense,” her order said.
Sanchez is among three people charged in the death of Roylynn Rides Horse, 28, who died on June 28, 2016, in a Salt Lake City hospital after being beaten unconscious, set on fire with gasoline and left in a field on the Crow Reservation on April 17, 2016.
Sanchez and co-defendant Angelica Jo Whiteman, 24, of Billings, are charged with first degree murder and have pleaded not guilty. If convicted they face mandatory life sentences.
A third defendant, Frank James Sanchez, 19, who is Dimarzio Sanchez’s brother, pleaded guilty on March 14 to failing to report a felony and to being an accessory after the fact. A plea deal calls for a first degree murder charge to be dismissed at sentencing if the judge accepts the agreement.
Assistant Federal Defender Gillian Gosch, who represents Dimarzio Sanchez, sought the mental exam, saying in court records that he “has demonstrated behavior that establishes there is a reasonable case to believe that Mr. Sanchez may be incompetent to stand trial.”
Prosecutor Lori Suek did not object to the mental exam.