A Vancouver man pleaded not guilty Friday in Clark County Superior Court to attempted murder for allegedly nearly strangling his wife to death in June 2011. She is now in a persistent vegetative state.
Charges against Gabriel Lomeli-Orozco, 41, had been delayed since his first appearance June 27, 2011, based on a defense expert’s concerns over his competency to stand trial.
Judge John Wulle committed Lomeli-Orozco to Western State Hospital in late 2011 for a total of 180 days for treatment of hallucinations and severe depression, which is known as “competency restoration” in the courts.
Both the prosecution and defense have submitted subsequent reports concluding Lomeli-Orozco is now competent to stand trial.
Wulle agreed Friday and found him competent. The judge scheduled his trial for March 4.
Suzan Clark, Lomeli-Orozco’s defense attorney, said she will likely pursue either an insanity or diminished capacity defense.
Orozco’s wife, Maria, is brain-dead and remains on life support.
Vancouver police officers were called to the couple’s home June 26, 2011, in the 2900 block of Caples Avenue after their son called 911. He reported that his mother was unconscious, and his father had fled the home, according to court documents.
The son told investigators that his parents had an argument the previous night and were sleeping in separate bedrooms. The next morning, the son saw his father step into his mother’s bedroom briefly and then leave the home in a rush, according to court documents. The son told officers that he heard “a squeak” coming from the bedroom.
The son rushed into the bedroom and found his mother unconscious with red marks and abrasions on her throat, indicating she had been strangled, according to court documents. She was rushed to Southwest Washington Medical Center and was later found to have no brain activity.
The same day, the son contacted his father by telephone. Lomeli-Orozco told him he was so distraught over the situation that he had ingested rat poison, according to court documents.
Lomeli-Orozco surrendered to Vancouver police about two hours later in a strip mall parking lot at 5000 E. Fourth Plain Blvd.
Police said he showed symptoms of having ingested rat poison and was transported to the hospital for observation; he was later booked into jail.