SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An 83-year-old man accused of gunning down his estranged wife on a busy street in the Gaslamp District is mentally competent to stand trial, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Joseph Gotell faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted of murdering his 57-year-old wife, Deborah.
Judge Frederick Maguire reinstated criminal proceedings Wednesday, after attorneys agreed with a doctor's evaluation that the defendant understands the charges against him and can assist his lawyer at trial.
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Feb. 2.
Deputy District Attorney C.J. Mody said Gotell confronted his wife about 2:15 p.m. on May 14 near the corner of Fifth Avenue and Broadway. They argued, and Gotell pulled out a .32-caliber handgun and shot his wife twice in the head and once in the right arm, the prosecutor alleged. She was declared brain dead the next morning.
After the shooting, Gotell threw his gun about 10 feet away and was quickly detained by two security guards, who turned him over to a passing San Diego police officer, Mody said.
The prosecutor said the Gotells had separated after about five years of marriage. The victim was out running errands when she was confronted by her estranged husband, he said.
Authorities have yet to offer an official motive for the crime, but the victim's three adult daughters told reporters that their mother had broken away several times from the defendant.
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