A psychologist evaluating Justin Morgan Daly’s competency to stand trial was given another month Wednesday to test whether Daly is exaggerating symptoms of mental illness.
Daly is accused of bludgeoning his landlord, 52-year-old Louis Auriemma, with a baseball bat and cutting the man’s head with a chain saw on Oct. 8, 2012.
He is charged with second-degree murder.
Dr. Nathan Andrews with the state Office of Forensic Mental Health Services conducted Daly’s most recent competency evaluation, and he testified Wednesday at a hearing in Skagit County Superior Court to determine how the case would proceed.
In his written evaluation, Andrews said with the information available to him he did not believe Daly could assist in his defense and that restoring his competency may not be possible.
But he also wrote he had suspicions that Daly might be exaggerating the symptoms of his mental condition, masking whether he actually understands his legal situation.
Andrews would not comment further after the hearing, citing concerns about patient privacy.
In a competency evaluation conducted in January, Andrews said Daly refused to continue after about 50 minutes, when his criminal charges were brought up.
When asked by prosecutor Paul Nielsen if Daly could be exaggerating symptoms of mental illness, Andrews said his evaluation led him to believe that was a possibility.
“He may have a better ability to understand his legal situation than has been presented,” Andrews said, citing Daly’s ability to understand similarly complex topics, such as his medical history.
However, Andrews said he didn’t have enough time to conduct tests to determine if Daly was exaggerating symptoms.
“We make opinions based on the best information we have available at the time,” Andrews said.
When he was asked if he would take more time if it was offered, Andrews said he would.
“I believe I would have a more complete opinion at that point,” he said. “My opinion could change (but) it may not.”
Keith Tyne, who represents Daly, said the conclusion in Andrews’ evaluation should be taken as it was written, and he requested an order affirming Daly’s lack of competence.
He said Andrews did not feel compelled to ask for more time to complete his evaluation, implying he didn’t feel additional tests were necessary to make a judgment or the results wouldn’t have swayed his judgment.
The competency evaluation done by Andrews is the eighth Daly has received since his arrest, with the majority of those evaluations having determined he was not competent.
Tyne said Daly has gone through four attempts at competency restoration.
Judge Dave Needy ordered a hearing in about a month, giving Andrews until then to run tests on Daly.