Man accused in homeless killings ruled mentally competent

Jon David Guerrero

SAN DIEGO — A man accused of attacking five homeless men in various San Diego neighborhoods, killing three of them, is mentally competent to stand trial, a judge ruled Monday.

After reviewing reports from Patton State Hospital and a court-appointed doctor in San Diego, Judge David Danielsen ruled that Guerrero understands the charges against him and can assist his attorney at trial.

The judge reinstated criminal proceedings and set an arraignment for April 4.

Guerrero, 40, was arrested last summer in connection with the crime spree. In October, he was found to be incompetent to stand trial and was sent to Patton State Hospital for up to three years or until his competency could be restored.

Guerrero was sent back to San Diego in January after doctors at Patton found him to be mentally competent.

Guerrero is charged with three counts of murder and two counts of premeditated attempted murder, along with a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey said more charges could be added at the arraignment next month.

San Diego police said the victims were brutalized — two of them set on fire — as they slept on roadsides, in open areas and under freeway bridges.

The first attack in the series occurred last July 3. About 8 a.m. that day, the burning body of Angelo De Nardo, 53, was found underneath an Interstate 5 offramp near the 2700 block of Morena Boulevard in Bay Park. Witnesses described seeing a man running across the freeway near Claremont Drive, carrying a gas can.

The following day, Shawn Mitchell Longley, 41, was found dead at a park on Bacon Street in Ocean Beach, and 61-year-old transient Manuel Mason was severely injured near Valley View Casino Center in the Midway district, according to police.

On the morning of July 6, Dionicio Derek Vahidy, 23, was gravely injured in downtown San Diego by an assailant who fled after leaving a towel burning on top of him. Vahidy died in a hospital four days later.

There are no indications that the suspect knew the victims, according to police.

Another attack happened shortly after 4:30 a.m. July 15, when two San Diego Harbor Police officers in a squad car in the 1800 block of C Street heard someone underneath Interstate 5 in the East Village yelling for help, police said.

The officers pulled over and found a 55-year-old homeless man suffering from “significant trauma” to his upper body.