A seven-year-old East Naples rape and murder case will be further delayed while a third competency test is done for the accused killer.
A judge ordered the competency test this week for Mario Rosales-Trejo, 36, after a lawyer for Rosales-Trejo said his client wouldn't communicate with him.
Sheriff's deputies have said Rosales-Trejo, who was homeless, broke into the home of 69-year-old Lois Messer and sexually assaulted her twice in January 2005, then was caught trying to break in a third time in February 2005. Messer died weeks later of organ failure, which prosecutors have tied to the assaults.
Rosales-Trejo, an illegal immigrant from Honduras, was in court Tuesday for a plea hearing, where Collier Circuit Judge Frank Baker was expected to consider a plea agreement that would have sent Rosales-Trejo to prison for 30 years. But John McGowan, who represented Rosales-Trejo on Wednesday, said another competency evaluation was needed.
"It's his inability to communicate competently and have a conversation," McGowan said.
Rosales-Trejo has been found incompetent to proceed twice — first in April 2009, then in November 2009. Both times, the decision was reversed. Another evaluation is needed because the last declaration of competency came more than six months ago, McGowan said.
The delay leaves Deborah Alkire, Messer's daughter, in a holding pattern once again.
Alkire said she is conflicted about the plea agreement. She called the 30-year prison sentence too light, saying "nothing short of him getting the chair would be enough for me." But Alkire added that she wants the case completed.
"There would be a bit of relief that I don't have to deal with it on a daily basis anymore," Alkire said. "My one hope would be that when he goes to prison, he finds that the prisoners aren't so sympathetic to people who inflict pain and suffering on others, especially on older women."
The case landed in Baker's courtroom after Circuit Judge Fred Hardt, who originally had the case, disqualified himself. A motion filed by Nico Vitale, a lawyer for Rosales-Trejo, said Hardt rejected the 30-year plea agreement and "seemed anxious to make this case go to trial."
Hardt granted the motion because it was legally sufficient, but he wrote that some of the facts alleged in Vitale's motion were inaccurate.
Baker didn't say Tuesday whether he would accept the plea agreement, adding the case would go to trial if not.
"At some point I'll hear a plea offer and then we'll decide," Baker said.