David Machado, the suspected killer of Stanislaus County Sheriff Deputy Dennis Wallace, will be appearing in court to determine if he is now competent enough to stand trial for the charges against him.
Machado, 38, of Keyes is charged with murder with a special circumstance of killing a peace officer. The charge also carries two enhancements - one for acting with premeditation and the other for using a firearm. Machado is also charged with robbery in the first degree with an enhancement of using a firearm, felony carjacking with an enhancement of using a firearm and a felony charge of being a felon in possession of a gun. All the charges carry an additional enhancement in that Machado was out on bail for a previous charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The criminal case against Machado had been on hold since January when Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff ruled he did not possess the competency to participate in his own defense during a trial. The judge's decision came after hearing an evaluation from a forensic psychologist who examined Machado after he had several courtroom outbursts and refused to work with his defense attorney.
On Wednesday, Machado appeared before Zeff and was ordered to return on Nov. 16 for a full hearing to determine if he is competent enough now to stand trial. Both the prosecution and the defense will present evidence during the hearing, which is expected to last at least two days.
"At the end of the hearing, the judge will make a final determination whether the defendant understands the nature and circumstances of the criminal proceedings he's facing and whether he is capable of assisting his attorney in presenting his defense," said Deputy District Attorney John Gould, a spokesman for the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office. "If found competent, criminal proceedings will be reinstated and the case will resume. If the judge finds Machado is still incompetent to stand trial, then Machado would be sent for further mental health treatment to restore him to competency."
The fatal encounter began at 8:25 a.m. Nov. 13, 2016, when Wallace arrived at the Fox Grove Fishing Access at 1000 Geer Rd. in Hughson in a marked patrol car and in his uniform to check on a suspicious van at the scene. He was quickly informed that the vehicle had been reported stolen and that the suspect in the theft was believed to be Machado, who also was believed to be armed, according to the sheriff's department. Wallace made a request for a second unit to come to the scene.
Within seconds of making that request Wallace was shot twice in the head, according to the sheriff's department.
Dispatch tried to make contact with Wallace multiple times, but got no response. Sheriff's Deputy Christian Torres out of Waterford arrived at the scene and found Wallace on the ground shot. Lifesaving efforts were initiated and Wallace was rushed to a nearby hospital, but medical personnel were unable to save him and he was pronounced dead.
The suspect and the stolen van were both gone from Fox Grove when Torres arrived. A message was broadcast to all area law enforcement agencies alerting them to the incident, information was provided identifying the suspect and the vehicle related to the initial investigation.
Law enforcement learned a person in Keyes had been carjacked about 20 minutes after the shooting and the individual positively identified Machado as the carjacker.
The manhunt for Machado spread through the county and state.
Around noon that same day in the city of Lindsay a woman in a convenience store was approached by a man, later identified as Machado, who attempted to forcibly take her car keys from her. The woman fought back and was able to call 911, prompting Machado to flee the scene on foot, according to the sheriff's department.
Lindsay Police officers located Machado and he eventually surrendered without incident.
Once in custody the police department recognized Machado from the all-points bulletin. His identity was confirmed through a photograph and from his tattoos. Sheriff's investigators and a custodial team flew to Tulare County on the sheriff's department helicopter to question Machado and bring him back to Stanislaus County.
Because of the charges against him, Machado could be facing the death penalty, though the district attorney's office has not stated whether or not they would pursue the death penalty.