OAKLAND (Reuters) - A former nursing student charged with killing seven people at a Christian college in Oakland this year has been found by a psychiatrist to suffer from schizophrenia and unfit to stand trial, his lawyer told a judge on Monday.
One Goh, 44, is charged in Alameda County Superior Court with seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in the April 2 shooting spree at Oikos University, where he once attended nursing school. He has pleaded not guilty.
The shooting spree was the deadliest at an American college since 2007, when a Virginia Tech University student killed 32 people and wounded 25.
Deputy Public Defender David Klaus said at a hearing in Alameda County Superior Court that a court-ordered psychiatric report concluded that Goh was “presently incompetent to stand trial due to his longstanding paranoid schizophrenia.”
A hearing on Goh’s competency was postponed until January 7 because a second psychiatrist, who the court also ordered to issue a report, was unable to interview the Korean-born defendant until a translator could be found.
Goh, who weighed 220 pounds when he was arrested a few hours after shooting, looked emaciated as he sat in a jury box in a red jail suit, his hands and feet shackled. Klaus estimated Goh, who refused food for four weeks after his arrest, had lost up to 75 pounds.
“I’ve felt strongly since the beginning of the case that he’s severely mentally ill,” Klaus said after Goh’s brief court appearance. “I believe that mental illness is, if not the direct cause, certainly the catalyst for this terrible tragedy that he committed.”
Klaus said the confidential psychiatrist’s report found that, based on interviews with family members, Goh has suffered from paranoid schizophrenia for nine to 15 years. He never sought treatment and has refused treatment in jail.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O‘Malley, who has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty, declined comment.
Authorities said they believe Goh became angry after he dropped out of the nursing school last year and administrators refused to refund his tuition. A Presbyterian minister from Korea founded Oikos University as a vocational school in 2004.
Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Todd Eastham