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 mentally.

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

Learn about our Energy Efficient Stores

specialized 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 body."

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 standing trial.

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.