Raul Alcantar Sanchez, Jr., Trial: A Debate on Willful Intent versus Mental Illness

By Julia Urquizo

RIVERSIDE, CA – The question here in the Riverside County Superior Court murder trial of Raul Sanchez, Jr., this week isn’t whether he stabbed his 34-year-old roommate to death in their trailer on Nov. 21, 2012, but whether he was in his “right” mind when he did it.

Assistant Public Defender Kimberly Allee Tuesday insisted Sanchez, Jr., was under alleged psychosis, and is asking for a verdict of no more than involuntary manslaughter rather than murder in the first and second degree.

The PD noted that multiple witnesses had seen Sanchez talking to himself, using gestures days before the crime took place. Specifically, the PD cited the day before the murder where Sanchez allegedly whispered to himself at the dinner table in front of his father and the victim herself that he was going to kill her.

The looming debate in the courtroom consisted of whether Sanchez committed murder under rational thought versus responding to psychosis. Expert witness doctors had varying medical opinions about Sanchez’s mental state after the crime, due to his alleged calm demeanor upon arrest.

PD Allee mentioned a witness statement that claimed Sanchez was talking to himself the morning after the crime when the witness picked him up, indicating that Sanchez was responding to internal stimuli.

But Deputy District Attorney Anne-Marie Lofthouse argued Sanchez had a rational thought process before, during, and after he committed murder.

DDA Lofthouse’s key statement in court was that the debate is not about Sanchez’s mental state but whether he had the specific intent to kill.  It was reported that Sanchez told one of the doctors assigned to the case that he was not experiencing any command hallucinations during the time of stabbing.

The prosecutor returned to the night before the murder when Sanchez said at the dinner table to the victim that he was going to kill her, and fulfilled that promise the very next day.

Notably, Sanchez was initially found mentally incompetent to stand trial and transferred to a mental health facility for years. There is also evidence of Sanchez owning medication prescriptions from mental health facilities prior to his crime.

The trial is ongoing this week.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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