Veterans Hospital homicide suspect to undergo mental evaluation

Monday, April 29, 2013 | 6:02 p.m. CDT; updated 10:05 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 29, 2013

COLUMBIA — The prosecution and defense agreed at a hearing Monday to order a mental examination for Rudy Perez Jr., charged in a Feb. 1 homicide at Truman Veterans Hospital.

At Perez's arraignment April 8, his attorney David Tyson Smith entered a plea of not guilty by means of mental disease or defect. After Perez's first appearance in Boone County Associate Circuit Court on Feb. 7, Smith said his client has a history of schizophrenia and was off his medication at the time of the incident.

Perez, 33, is accused of killing Robert Hill, 78, while both were patients at the hospital. 

According to the probable cause statement, Perez struck Hill on the head and face while they were in a common room. Hospital staff separated the two, and after Perez calmed down and Hill’s injuries were treated, they again were allowed in the common area together. Three hours later, Perez attacked Hill again, forcing him onto the floor, kneeling over him and striking him multiple times in the face and head, according to the statement. Hill was brought to University Hospital where he died from his injuries. 

Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight and Smith will create the order for medical examination together and present it to Judge Gary Oxenhandler. Then, Perez has 60 days to undergo evaluation, Knight said. The order will allow the director of the Department of Mental Health to determine where and when the examination takes place and who conducts it.

According to the Missouri Revised Statutes, "no person who as a result of mental disease or defect lacks capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense shall be tried, convicted or sentenced for the commission of an offense so long as the incapacity endures."

Perez is being held in the Boone County Jail. His bond is set at $1 million, cash only.

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