Truman Veterans Hospital homicide suspect to get second mental evaluation

Monday, August 26, 2013 | 5:55 p.m. CDT; updated 6:03 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 27, 2013

COLUMBIA — Rudy Perez Jr. will receive a second mental evaluation to help determine if he was mentally competent during a Feb. 1 homicide at Truman Veterans Hospital, where he is accused of killing another patient.

Circuit Judge Gary Oxenhandler approved the order requested by Boone County Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight at a hearing Monday in Boone County Circuit Court. Perez’s attorney, David Tyson Smith, requested the initial evaluation on April 29, and Knight said he received the results on July 23.

The evaluation results are not open to the public at this time, and Knight would not comment on them.

At his April 8 arraignment, Smith, entered a plea of not guilty by means of mental disease or defect for Perez. At his first appearance in Boone County Associate Circuit Court on Feb. 7, Smith said Perez has a history of schizophrenia and was off his medication during the incident.

After a report is filed, both the defense and prosecution are entitled to request a new one within 10 days, according to state law. Knight said the state statute bars him from commenting on why he requested a second evaluation.

Knight originally filed for a new evaluation on July 31 but presented the judge with an updated order Monday.

The second evaluation will be done by John Rabun, an independent St.Louis-based forensic psychologist, who did not conduct the first one. Both evaluations will be admissible during Perez's trial, Knight said.

The evaluations will also determine if Perez is fit to stand trial.

Perez, who turns 34 on Thursday, is accused of killing Robert Hill, 78, while both were patients at Truman Veterans Hospital.

Perez attacked Hill in a common area on the second floor of the hospital while they were both patients, according to the probable cause statement.

The two were separated by staff and then allowed back in the same room three hours later, where Perez attacked him again. He knocked Hill to the floor, kneeled over him and struck him several times in the head, according to the statement. Hill was brought to University Hospital where he was pronounced dead four hours later.

The psychiatric unit is on the second floor of the hospital.

Smith requested to have Perez transferred to the Biggs Forensic Center at Fulton State Hospital in May, but withdrew the request, saying issues with Perez's medication had been resolved. Perez is currently in Boone County Jail with a cash-only $1 million bail.

He is also facing six charges in Pettis County for a string of assaults against his neighbor, parents and a jail officer the week before he was brought to the Veterans Hospital.

Supervising editor is Richard Webner.

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