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Collin Francis, accused of murder of Nestor Vasquez Jr, faces competency hearing – doctor says he has schizophrenia

Posted: Saturday, December 9, 2023. 5:02 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Before the High Court on Friday, a competency hearing for Collin Francis, 32, accused of the attempted murder of a nurse at the Port Loyola Clinic, then beating another man unconscious while at a police station, allegedly causing his death, got underway.

But before any trial can begin, the court must determine whether Francis is sane, and if he is, whether he is currently fit to stand trial.

The Crown, represented by Romey Wade, led evidence coming from psychiatric doctor Alejandro Matus, the sole witness to testify.

Dr Matus certified that he has diagnosed Francis with schizophrenia, a serious mental illness that affects how a person, thinks, feels and behaves, and told the court that in Francis’ case, he had lost touch with reality.

In his testimony, Dr Matus said that if Francis is not on medication, he will be a threat to society, and that he has exhibited violent tendencies.

Cross-examining, defense counsel Bryan Neal asked whether the illness would affect his thinking in establishing an intent to kill. He also asked whether the medications with which Francis was being treated are specific to his illness and whether they would cure him. Dr Matus concurred that they were listed as proper treatment, and would decrease his symptoms and stabilize him – but not cure him.

The doctor confirmed that Francis will remain schizophrenic for the rest of his life even with treatment, and that “The best place [to house him] is a psychiatric hospital but in Belize we don’t have one of such.” The doctor further told the court that the Central Prison does not have specific services for mental care of prisoners, but that they have access to obtain medication.

Francis in May and June of 2019 allegedly attacked Nurse Augustina Elijio. Days later, while being held at the Queen Street Police Station, he allegedly went after Nestor Vasquez Jr when they were placed together in a cell.

The matter was adjourned for December 13. If he is found sane and fit to stand trial, the court will direct where Francis is to be safely kept.

 

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