SANTA ANA (CNS) - More than three months after being accused of killing four people in a shooting rampage in Orange, Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez has been cleared medically to make it to court for his scheduled arraignment today, but it is not clear if he has recovered enough to assist his attorneys in his defense.
Gonzalez, 44, sustained a bullet wound to the head in the March 31 shootings and had to have a portion of his brain removed during surgery.
He has been described as somewhat like a stroke patient working to recover his ability to walk and speak, but has shown some signs of progress, though not enough for his attorneys to say in court whether they can communicate with him enough so he can assist in his defense.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Cheri Pham could declare Gonzalez unable to assist in his defense, or the defendant's attorneys could declare he is mentally incompetent, which would trigger a legal proceeding to determine his mental fitness to assist in his defense.
It is most often declared for defendants with mental health issues, but in this case it would still suspend the legal proceedings and result in two doctors being appointed -- one for the defense and the other for the prosecution -- to examine Gonzalez and report back to the judge.
If Gonzalez is found to not be able to assist in his defense at this time, then he would be placed in a facility where he would be cared for until he recuperated enough for the legal proceedings to resume.
Gonzalez was charged April 2 with multiple murder and attempted murder charges, making him eligible for the death penalty if convicted. Prosecutors have not decided whether to pursue the death penalty.
The charges against Gonzalez include four counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder of a police officer and one count of attempted murder.
Gonzalez also faces a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders and sentence enhancements alleging the personal discharge of a firearm causing death, premeditation, personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, personal use of a firearm and personal discharge of a firearm.
Police say Gonzalez specifically targeted Unified Homes, a real estate company selling manufactured homes, at 202 W. Lincoln Ave., and was acquainted either personally or professionally with all of the victims, who were identified by police as 50-year-old company co-owner Luis Tovar; his daughter, 28-year-old Jenevieve Raygoza; 9-year-old Matthew Farias; and company employee Leticia Solis Guzman, 58.
Raygoza, who worked for her father's company, is survived by her husband and two young children. The 9-year-old boy's mother, Blanca Ismeralda Tamayo, was hospitalized in critical condition, but has since been released from the hospital.
The first of multiple 911 calls came in seconds before 5:35 p.m. March 31, according to Orange Police Department Lt. Jennifer Amat. The caller said a man was shooting into a business from across the street, she said. The first officers arrived on scene at 5:36 p.m.
Police were initially unable to enter due to bicycle cable locks that the suspect used to secure the north and south gates of the courtyard from the inside, Amat said. Two officers spotted him in the courtyard, and the shooting that left Gonzalez wounded happened through the gate before they were able to get inside, Amat said.
A sergeant who responded to the scene had bolt cutters in the squad car that officers used to lop off the locks, she said. After officers gained access to the courtyard, they tended to the suspect and the boy's mother.
Officers eventually found three more deceased victims. One woman was found on an upstairs outdoor landing; one man was found inside an office building; and another woman was found inside a separate building.
Police recovered a semi-automatic handgun inside the complex, along with a backpack containing pepper spray, handcuffs and ammunition believed to belong to the suspect, Amat said.
Gonzalez, whose last known address was in Fullerton, had recently been living out of a motel room in Anaheim, Amat said, and arrived at the business in a rental car.
Other details on Gonzalez's background were not provided, but Amat said the “preliminary motive is believed to be related to a business and personal relationship'' between the suspect and the victims.
Gonzalez's ex-wife, Aleyda Mendoza, used to work for United Homes.
According to Orange County Superior Court records, Gonzalez was charged in April 2015 with misdemeanor counts of child abuse and endangerment, assault with a deadly weapon, dissuading a witness from reporting a crime and battery in a case in which he allegedly assaulted a boy in his care or custody with an umbrella on March 31, 2015, in Anaheim.
The child abuse, assault with a deadly weapon and dissuading a witness counts were dismissed on Nov. 30, 2015, and the battery charge was dismissed on Sept. 26, 2017, because of a law that allows for the expunging of convictions if a defendant clears probation successfully.
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