A mental competency evaluation was ordered Tuesday for a man accused of killing his mother and mutilating her body in her Solana Beach home nearly two years ago.
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A preliminary hearing was scheduled Tuesday for 30-year-old Bryan Chang, but before it could get under way, attorney Kathleen Cannon told Judge Harry Elias that she doubted her client's ability to understand the charges against him and assist her in his defense.
Elias suspended criminal proceedings and ordered Chang to be evaluated by doctors. A mental competency hearing was scheduled for Feb. 16 at the downtown courthouse.
This marks the third time in the last two years that Chang has been evaluated for mental competency. He was initially found to be incompetent to stand trial, then ruled competent.
Cannon told the judge Tuesday that Chang thinks his jail bed leaks radiation and that he has radiation poisoning. The attorney also said Chang's personal hygiene is suffering because deputies regularly change his cell, leaving him without sufficient toiletries.
The defendant is charged with murder and special circumstance allegations of torture and murder for financial gain in the Jan. 25, 2010, death of Sherry Chu Chang. Her body was found at the home on Santa Florencia, near San Elijo Lagoon, after she didn't show up for work.
Her son was arrested at his home in Los Angeles two nights later.
Prosecutor Rachel Solov alleged the defendant cut off his mother's right arm and part of her skull and put them in a refrigerator. Claw hammers may have been used in the killing, according to authorities.
Bloody fingerprints found on blinds in the home led authorities to the defendant, Solov said.
The District Attorney's Office hasn't yet decided whether Chang would face the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted.
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