A woman charged with causing a car crash that killed two people in June of 2014 was deemed mentally competent by a judge at the Maricopa County Superior Court on Tuesday morning.
In the summer of 2014, Ingrid L. Morataya was driving an FJ Cruiser that rear-ended a vehicle in Mesa, killing the driver, Guadalupe Madril, 37, and front-passenger Jason Aguilera, 33, according to a police report.
Madril’s vehicle was then pushed into the back of another car driven by an elderly man who received minor injuries and required medical treatment at a hospital. Another driver in a vehicle next to the collision was also hurt.
According to court records, Morataya, 35, was taken into custody on two counts of manslaughter, one count of aggravated assault, one count of reckless endangerment, and two aggravated DUI charges.
Upon her arrest, police noted in their report that Morataya seemed to be impaired, and the defendant later admitted to smoking marijuana that “may have been laced” with other narcotics.
A bond of $500,000 was set for Morataya, but she remained in custody before appearing in court for a Rule 11 evaluations hearing on Tuesday, October 7.
Rule 11 entails the Forensics Services Division of the Superior Court accepting criminal cases that require the evaluation of a defendant’s competency. The court requires that two doctors conduct a psychological evaluation of the defendant, explains Maricopa County defense attorney, Richard Randall.
“The statutory definition of what that means is they understand who the different players are in the proceedings and they can actively participate in their own defense,” Randall said. “It doesn’t mean you’re sane. It’s a very low standard.”
“You can have people go into that court because they have medical issues,” Randall explained further.
“They aren’t mental, but they keep someone from understanding the process. For example, I had a client that had hit his head and suffered from constant ringing in his head. He was sane, but that medical condition kept him from participating, so we put him in there. Usually, it’s mental health. We fight them every once in a while, but it’s necessary to do due diligence. If there is an issue, we want it looked at. It’s a rubberstamp process, I don’t think it’s very effective.”
Morataya was evaluated by a Dr. Worsley and Dr. Kirkley after being appointed mental health professionals in August of 2014. Morataya tested positive for use of marijuana in the blood sample collected via search warrant, according to court records.
The family members of the victims killed by Morataya in the collision were present in court on Tuesday. Maricopa County state attorney Juli Warzynski leaned across her bench to shake the members’ hands and explained the court decision.
“She’s been found competent,” Warzynki said in a whisper. “We’re proceeding from there.”
Judge Barbara Spencer, who presided over the hearing, promptly set Morataya a pre-trial date.
“The defense finds the defendant is competent according to the statute,” Spencer announced. “I’m transferring your case to commissioner Bernstein for an initial pretrial conference on October 14 at 8:15 a.m.”