Was David Machado mentally sane when he shot to death Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace during a Nov. 13, 2016 encounter at Fox Grove Fishing Access? Or was the murder the result of a delusional person suffering from mental illness?
That will be up to a Stanislaus County Superior Court jury to decide. That jury began the sanity phase of Machado’s trial which began last week.
If the jury decides he was insane, the 44-year-old Machado will be ordered to a psychiatric facility instead of spending the rest of his life in prison.
After a few short hours on Monday, March 29 the jury found Machado guilty of murder on Monday, March 29. Machado’s mental status is now the subject of hearings that started last week and expected to take weeks. The sanity phase was ordered because Machado simultaneously entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.
Wallace was on patrol in the parking lot of the popular river access when he spotted a suspicious Dodge Caravan that was reported stolen by Machado’s mother. Machado handed over his driver’s license and registration to Wallace who took them back to his patrol SUV. At some point Machado shot Wallace at close range and fled the scene. The suspect then drove to the Starlight subdivision in Keyes where he jumped into the backyard of Cecilia and Israel Chaves’ home on Heston Way. A gun wielding Machado made his way to the front driveway where Israel was cleaning his daughter’s 2009 Kia Rio. Machado asked for the car keys. At one point Cecilia Chaves begged Machado to leave without the car and offered to pray for him, to which he replied, “No, I’m Satan’s son.” She also testified that Machado apologizing more than once and claiming the government killed his family.
Prosecutors with the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office assert that Machado was sane and carrying out threats he uttered weeks prior to “shoot it out” with law enforcement. Machado had made the statement to several people after he was released on bail for another felony charge and said he would not go back to jail.
At the time of his arrest Machado had a bench warrant out because he missed a court appearance on the charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Defense attorney Marcus Mumford argued that Machado was not deserving of a first-degree murder charge because he acted impulsively and not in premeditated fashion. Mumford said second-degree was more fitting since Machado didn’t immediately shoot Wallace and since he didn’t shoot at officers who cornered him in Lindsay. Mumford noted that Machado instead surrendered with hands up and saying, “I don’t want to die.”
Those who knew Machado said he had irrational thoughts in the months leading up to the shooting and that drugs may have been altering his mental state. Machado’s mother testified that her son was both depressed and delusional. She also stated that on Nov. 12 David dropped by with delusion that he was a U.S. marshal on leave.
On Thursday Mumford detailed that Machado was so delusional that he believed the government was out to kill him and his family. Jessica Marple, the mother of two sons, testified also that David believed that the government was tracking his location through the surgical pins placed by surgeons in his wrist to repair bones broken in a prior dirt bike crash.
The doctor who treated Machado from 2009 to 2014, Dr. Gagandeep Popli testified to the extent of his delusions and distrust of others. His patient made claims that he invented the internet and was the one who came up with Megan’s List. Dr. Popli prescribed Machado diagnosing him with psychotic disorder and anxiety. He became stable for a time until he stopped taking his medication, Marple testified. Machado was referred to a Hughson clinic where a doctor would not prescribe the medication for fear that the dosage was too high.
When Machado’s delusions and behaviors worsened, Marple left Machado and gained custody of their children.