SAN ANTONIO – Attorneys for Mark Anthony Gonzalez requested that a hearing on a prosecutor’s pretrial motion in his trial to determine competency be held in Judge Andrew Carruther’s chambers rather than in open court.
In October, a jury found Gonzalez guilty of capital murder and sentenced him to death for the ambush-style slaying of Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenneth Vann.
Gonzalez cannot be formally sentenced until his competency has been evaluated. That will be done by a jury during his trial set for Wednesday.
On Tuesday, his lawyers said they wanted the pretrial hearing held in chambers to avoid any pretrial publicity that they contend could taint prospective jurors.
Prosecutors did not oppose the move and Carruther’s granted the request.
“Our motion in limine was to limit what the jury can hear and to focus it only on the issue of competency,” District Attorney Nicholas “Nico” LaHood said. "The guilt/innocence has been litigated already.”
“He was found guilty and he was even assessed the death penalty,” LaHood said. "The defense wants to bring up other issues."
Gonzalez’s lawyers refused to comment, saying only that they want to avoid any pretrial publicity.
Both sides are expected to call expert witnesses skilled in assessing competency during the trial.
Testimony will likely begin on Thursday in Carruther’s Magistrate Court.