Judge hears update on murder suspect's mental capacity

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - An evidentiary hearing Monday in the case of a man accused in four Northern Nevada murders, resulted in the judge modifying the rules for the defense's expert witness in examining the suspect's mental capacity.

Wilber Martinez-Guzman, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, is accused of killing Connie Koontz, Sophia Renken, and Jerry and Sherry David over a two-week crime spree in January 2019.

His defense team is hoping to prove Martinez-Guzman has an intellectual disability, making him ineligible for the death penalty in Nevada.

On Monday, Dr. Antonio Puente, a neuropsychologist, testified via video conference in regards to his planned visit to El Salvador next month to interview people who have background information on Martinez-Guzman.

Dr. Puente said introducing a third party, whether an observer or an electronic recording device would impact the trust he needed to build with the individuals and would alter the results.

He added that recording interviews and tests without the subject's consent would also violate the ethics of his profession.

The judge originally requested all interviews in El Salvador be recorded and then submitted in the discovery process, so that the prosecution could call its own witnesses based on the information and evidence.

To her dismay, that apparently wasn't done during an initial trip to El Salvador.

After hearing Dr. Puente's testimony and listening to arguments from both sides, the judge made a modification and said that the person being interviewed must be asked if they agree to be recorded. If they say no, Dr. Puente can conduct the interview accordingly.

Standardized tests, she said, need not be recorded.

The next hearing in this case is scheduled for April 6, 2020 at 10 a.m.

The trial date is still set for August 31, 2020.

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