Oklahoma man found competent to represent himself in killings of Long Beach woman and her daughter

Friday, 13 October 2017, 04:25:54 PM. An Oklahoma man with a history of mental illness will be allowed to represent himself when he faces murder charges later this year in the 2016 slayings of a Long Beach woman and her 4-year-old daughter, a judge ruled Thursday.

An Oklahoma man with a history of mental illness will be allowed to represent himself when he faces murder charges later this year in the killings of a Long Beach woman and her 4-year-old daughter, a judge ruled Thursday.

Brandon Colbert, 23, was arrested last year and charged with using a shotgun to kill Carina Mancera, 26, and her daughter Jenabel Anaya, on Aug. 9, 2016. The Tulsa native had traveled to California for the first time just days before the shootings. Investigators have not revealed a motive in the slayings.

Colbert’s mental competence has been a central issue in court proceedings this year, with the defendant trafficking in bizarre conspiracy theories while representing himself during preliminary hearings.

Medical records obtained by the Los Angeles Times this year showed Colbert was previously diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder, meaning he was presenting symptoms of schizophrenia, but not for the six-month period necessary for a formal diagnosis. Doctors in Oklahoma also feared Colbert had been abusing K2, or “spice,” a synthetic cannabinoid that can exacerbate underlying symptoms of mental illness and that has been linked to violent outbursts.

In May, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Jesse Rodriguez found Colbert incompetent to stand trial, citing a nine-page medical report. Rodriguez ordered that Colbert be admitted to a state hospital for treatment.

On Thursday, he ruled Colbert was competent both to stand trial and to act as his own attorney, said Greg Risling, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

A tentative trial date has been set for December, Risling said.

oklahoma-man-found-competent-to-represent-himself-in-killings-of-long-beach-woman-and-her-daughter photo 1 James Queally

The dramatic shift in Brandon Colbert’s personality worried his family.

The 20-year-old was withdrawing from his siblings and cousins, whom he had long considered his closest friends. He would laugh out loud for no apparent reason. He told doctors in Tulsa, Okla., that something was “taking over”...

The dramatic shift in Brandon Colbert’s personality worried his family.

The 20-year-old was withdrawing from his siblings and cousins, whom he had long considered his closest friends. He would laugh out loud for no apparent reason. He told doctors in Tulsa, Okla., that something was “taking over”...

(James Queally)

Defense attorney Jason Sias, who had been hired by Colbert’s family in Oklahoma, said the judge urged Colbert not to represent himself while delivering his latest ruling. Pointing to Colbert’s history of mental illness, Sias said he did not believe the defendant should act as his own attorney.

“Today he might seem OK, but during the time period of this trial, he may have a lapse where he can’t understand what is going on,” Sias said.

On Aug. 9, 2016, prosecutors allege, Colbert emerged from a hiding spot near 9th Street and Locust Avenue in Long Beach and leveled a shotgun at Mancera, her longtime boyfriend, Luis Anaya, and their daughter, Jenabel. Mancera died at the scene, and the young girl succumbed to her injuries at a hospital a short time later. Anaya escaped uninjured.

Colbert was linked to the crime through DNA found on a spent shotgun shell. He was charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder last November. Prosecutors announced this year that they would not seek the death penalty, without giving a reason for that decision.

During a series of court hearings this year, Colbert has demanded to act as his own attorney over the objections of his relatives and other attorneys hired by his family.

He has denied involvement in the shootings and raised strange conspiracy theories in his defense. At one point, he claimed his victims were actually still alive. He has also insisted he is being framed and made repeated references to the 1997 film “Gang Related,” the plot of which centers on two corrupt police officers framing a homeless man for murder.

Prosecutors also questioned Colbert’s decision to represent himself in a court filing this year, asking Rodriguez to determine whether Colbert was competent to act as his own attorney. In the filing, prosecutors did not suggest Colbert was incompetent to be tried for the murders, court records show.

Colbert has not raised insanity as a possible defense.

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Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

oklahoma-man-found-competent-to-represent-himself-in-killings-of-long-beach-woman-and-her-daughter photo 3 CAPTION

Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

oklahoma-man-found-competent-to-represent-himself-in-killings-of-long-beach-woman-and-her-daughter photo 4 CAPTION

Over 160,000 acres have been destroyed in northern California fires.

Over 160,000 acres have been destroyed in northern California fires.

oklahoma-man-found-competent-to-represent-himself-in-killings-of-long-beach-woman-and-her-daughter photo 5 CAPTION

The death toll from the Northern California fires has reached 17. A wounded Mandalay Bay security guard warned hotel officials about a gunman before the Las Vegas massacre. Harvey Weinstein is facing more sexual assault and harassment allegations. The FBI’s investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball continues to expand. 

The death toll from the Northern California fires has reached 17. A wounded Mandalay Bay security guard warned hotel officials about a gunman before the Las Vegas massacre. Harvey Weinstein is facing more sexual assault and harassment allegations. The FBI’s investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball continues to expand. 

oklahoma-man-found-competent-to-represent-himself-in-killings-of-long-beach-woman-and-her-daughter photo 6 CAPTION

A Northern California firestorm is one of the worst in state history, officials say. The Dodgers are heading to the NLCS after beating the Diamondbacks Monday night. Police have dramatically changed their account of how the Las Vegas massacre began. The Los Angeles Times has named a new editor in chief. 

A Northern California firestorm is one of the worst in state history, officials say. The Dodgers are heading to the NLCS after beating the Diamondbacks Monday night. Police have dramatically changed their account of how the Las Vegas massacre began. The Los Angeles Times has named a new editor in chief. 

oklahoma-man-found-competent-to-represent-himself-in-killings-of-long-beach-woman-and-her-daughter photo 7 CAPTION

A wind-fed wildfire surged over the Anaheim Hills on Monday, burning several homes and forcing thousands to evacuate as fire crews struggled to battle the rapidly growing blaze.

A wind-fed wildfire surged over the Anaheim Hills on Monday, burning several homes and forcing thousands to evacuate as fire crews struggled to battle the rapidly growing blaze.

james.queally@latimes.com

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT on Twitter for crime and police news in California.

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