VA murder suspect to get second mental evaluation

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A judge has approved a second mental evaluation for a man accused of beating another man to death at a central Missouri veterans’ hospital.

Boone County Circuit Judge Gary Oxenhandler on Monday granted the state’s request for another mental evaluation of Rudy Perez Jr., of Sedalia. Perez is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 1 beating death of 78-year-old Robert O. Hill, of Warsaw, at Harry S. Truman Veterans Hospital in Columbia.

Perez pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in February. His attorney, David Tyson Smith, has said Perez is schizophrenic and had not taken prescribed medication before the attack.

Perez underwent a mental evaluation sought by his attorney earlier this year. Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight then sought a second evaluation, which will be conducted by an independent forensic psychiatrist, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/17gTetN ).

The case is set for a jury trial Oct. 1 but Knight said Monday he expects the trial to be delayed.

Authorities allege that Perez first attacked Hill in the room they shared at the VA hospital, hitting him in the head and face. They were separated, but after Perez calmed down and Hill was treated for his injuries, the pair was readmitted to the common area.

The reason for the attacks have not been determined, according to a probable cause statement.

Perez also faces assault charges in Pettis County for alleged assaults on a neighbor, his parents and an incident in the Pettis County jail.

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Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com

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