Man accused of killing, mutilating mom ruled mentally competent

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Bryan Chang SAN DIEGO – A man accused of beating his mother to death in her Solana Beach home because she had decided to stop supporting him financially is mentally competent to stand trial, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Bryan Chang, 31, is charged with murder and special circumstance allegations of torture and murder for financial gain in the January 2010 slaying of 60-year-old Sherry Chu Chang.

After a reviewing a doctor’s report, Superior Court Judge Joseph Brannigan reinstated criminal proceedings against Chang, finding that the defendant understands the charges against him and can assist his attorney at trial.

The victim’s body was found Jan. 25, 2010, at her home on Santa Florencia near San Elijo Lagoon after she didn’t show up for work. The defendant was arrested at his home in Los Angeles two nights later.

Sherry Chu Chang suffered 75 separate wounds, including blows to her arm, back and scalp, delivered by either a claw hammer, baseball bat or some other blunt force instrument, according to previous court testimony.

At a preliminary hearing last November, defense attorney Kathleen Cannon said her client smashed his mother’s skull, then cut up her body, putting an arm and some broken bones in the refrigerator.

“This is just crazy,” Cannon told a judge at that hearing.

In an email, the defendant told his mother, “It’s no joke mom, I’m insane.”

Despite her decision to cut her son off financially, the victim was always there for her son, and in fact, was in Los Angeles the day before she was killed to buy him a car, Cannon said.

But prosecutor Rachel Solov said the victim had made changes to her accounts so that her son couldn’t get access to them through credit cards or other means.

Her credit card was used after she was slain, and $2,000 was taken from her purse, according to testimony at the preliminary hearing.

Vista Superior Court Judge Aaron Katz said at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing that the defendant was “upset and angered” by his mother’s decision to change the way she supported him financially and hit her with blows designed to inflict “extreme pain.”

A readiness conference is set for Oct. 2 in Vista and trial is scheduled for Oct. 24.

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