Woman accused of stealing cop car sent to mental hospital

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SAN DIEGO — A woman accused of stealing a San Diego police cruiser and using the vehicle to lead authorities on a freeway chase that ended north of Oceanside is not mentally competent to stand trial and will be sent to a state hospital for treatment, a judge ruled Friday.

Felicitas Flores, 22, pleaded not guilty Aug. 20 to a half-dozen felony charges, including theft of an emergency vehicle and evading arrest. At a subsequent hearing, the defense raised a question regarding Flores’ ability to understand the charges and assist in her own defense.

Today, Judge Joseph Brannigan adopted the findings in three doctor’s reports that Flores is mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Flores will be sent to Patton State Hospital for up to three years or until her competency is restored, the judge said. He ordered that the defendant take her anti-psychotic medication.

At Flores’ arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon said the defendant got into an unattended San Diego police cruiser near 17th and K streets in the East Village area of downtown about 11:30 p.m. Aug. 15 and drove off.

Runyon said authorities pursued Flores on northbound Interstate 5, sometimes at high speeds, before boxing her in at a rest stop north of Oceanside.

Prior to being taken into custody, Flores allegedly sideswiped a California Highway Patrol vehicle and rammed a San Diego police vehicle.

Flores, a documented gang member, was on community supervision after serving time in prison, Runyon said.

In addition to theft of a police vehicle and felony evading, Flores is charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and being a felon in possession of a firearm. She faces about 15 years in prison if convicted.

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