OROVILLE — And the beat goes on.
A Chico man who has been in custody more than three years, much of
the time in a state hospital after twice been declared mentally
incompetent to stand trial, will be examined by yet another doctor.
Both times James Lee Mathews, 37, was sent to Napa State
Hospital he was restored to competency, only to decompensate after
being transferred back to the Butte County Jail.
Mathews, who has filed a $3 million federal civil rights suit
against the county, claims jailers continue to physically mistreat him
and either change or reduce his medication, causing him to relapse
Mathews was finally scheduled to stand trial this month on
multiple charges including auto theft, evading police and drug
possession, when his attorney, Robert Radcliffe, again raised a doubt
as to his ability to competently assist in his own defense.
On Wednesday, the burly defendant objected to the most recent
findings of incompetence by a court-appointed psychologist and demanded
a second medical opinion.
After researching the relevant law, Superior Court Judge James
Reilley appointed a doctor of Mathews' choosing to re-examine him.
If the two doctors disagree on their findings, the judge would hold a court trial to resolve the issue.
Meanwhile, relatives of the incarcerated man claim his health is deteriorating in the local jail.
Mathews' mother said Wednesday a doctor who was directed by the court last month to examine her son, ordered
tests to try to determine the cause and extent of a bacterial infection
which has "burned holes in his tongue and has spread over his entire
But she said the procedure has not yet been done and the jail is withholding the results of blood tests from Mathews.
The Chico inmate, who claims to suffer from a cognitive mental
disorder since birth, has been in custody since early 2004 without
Last month, he rejected a plea bargain that would have reduced his maximum potential sentence from 17 to 8 years in prison.
The irate inmate found it ironic that "I'm competent enough to plead guilty," but not to stand trial.
He remains in custody pending the outcome of the latest mental tests.