LOS ANGELES (CBLSA) - The man accused in a deadly shootout at a Trader Joe's in Silver Lake will be examined by a court-appointed psychiatrist, a judge ruled Wednesday. The decision comes after the man's attorney declared doubt about his client's mental competency.
Gene Evin Atkins was ordered on Sept. 3 to stand trial on multiple charges after a Trader Joe's assistant manager, Melyda Marciela Corado, was fatally shot by a police officer when a gun battle broke out after a police pursuit that ended with a standoff inside the store.
Although Atkins did not shoot Corado, he is facing charges for her murder on the theory that he set off the chain of events that led to her death.
On July 21, 2018, Atkins allegedly kidnapped his teen girlfriend and forced her into his grandmother's car, which he crashed into a light pole in front of Trader Joe's at the end of a police pursuit. He then fled inside of the market while exchanging gunfire with pursuing officers.
An over three-hour standoff ensued between police and Atkins, as he held people hostage inside the store. Several store employees and customers were able to escape from the store, while others were released by Atkins at various times before he surrendered.
The charges Atkins faces include murder, attempted murder, attempted murder of a peace officer, assault on a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm, kidnapping, fleeing a pursuing peace officer's motor vehicle while driving recklessly, grand theft of an automobile, discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, shooting at an occupied motor vehicle, false imprisonment of a hostage and mayhem.
At a preliminary court hearing in December 2018, Atkins told the judge that he has no criminal record, but has an "extensive mental health record" that includes a diagnosis of "bipolar disorder and a list of other disorders, as well."
Atkins unsuccessfully tried to plead insanity at that hearing and in February 2019, told a judge that he was a prophet "sent here by Jesus" and didn't understand anything.
After acting as his own lawyer, Atkins was appointed an attorney.
Criminal proceedings against Atkins will be suspended in order for him to receive the court-ordered psychiatric evaluation. He is due back in court on April 15.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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