Norfolk murder suspect found competent to stand trial for 2017 stabbing death

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MADISON, Neb. (KCAU) – A Madison County judge has determined that a Norfolk man is competent to stand trial.

In a court filing, Madison County District Court Judge Mark Johnson found that Rodolfo Castaneda-Morejon, 48, of Norfolk, can now stand trial for first-degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony for the death of Yosvanis Velazquez.

A hearing was held on July 23 to determine his competency and parties gave closing arguments by August 24 about Castaneda-Morejon’s competency. Castaneda-Morejon allegedly stabbed Velazquez over suspicions that he having an affair with his girlfriend in August 2017.

At the hearing, a doctor said they believe Castaneda-Morejon is competent to plead guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity, but not to plead not guilty and to testify, adding that he has been diagnosed as schizophrenic, paranoid type and has exhibited symptoms including delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking, communication, and behavior. While the doctor believes his condition won’t improve, if he “defers to his attorneys about trial strategies, he may be competent to proceed,” the document states.

After evaluating evidence and legal rulings, Judge Johnson ruled that Castaneda-Morejon meets the competence to stand trial “in that he has the capacity to understand the nature and object of the proceedings against him, to comprehend his or her own condition in reference to such proceedings, and to make a rational defense, despite having potential unstable mental conditions.”

Johnson also ruled that accommodations will be made to allow Castaneda-Morejon overnight housing in a jail facility other than the Madison County Jail.

Castaneda-Morejon pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of Yosvanis Velazquez in November 2017 and then found incompetent to stand trial in May 2018. In January 2019, the state asked that Castaneda-Morejon take medication to help him be competent during the trial while the defense objected and asked for a postponed hearing. At a February 2020 hearing, he was found to still be incompetent to stand trial.

A pre-trial is set for January 22, 2021, at 2 p.m.

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