February 29, 2024
A courtroom gavel. File picture

A person accused of stabbing a 65-year-old girl to loss of life in an obvious random assault at a Metropolis Heights Park pleaded not responsible Tuesday to homicide.

Siliveinusi Patafalai Hamala, 23, is charged within the June 19 slaying of Chi Cao, who was stabbed a number of occasions at Central Avenue Mini Park.

Hamala was arrested later that day at his dwelling, situated a brief distance away from the park.

In accordance with police, Cao was exercising on the park when she was attacked “apparently with out warning” and with no indication “that she was focused for a selected cause.”

A neighbor discovered Cao and referred to as police simply earlier than 8:30 a.m., in response to a GoFundMe web page created to help the sufferer’s household.

Cao died on the scene. Hamala was arrested about 9 hours later.

In accordance with the GoFundMe web page, Cao had been a Metropolis Heights resident for a few years and had not too long ago turn into a U.S. citizen. Along with exercising on the day she was killed, the web page states that she was amassing recyclable cans, which she did recurrently as a method of further revenue and to financially help certainly one of her daughters who was dwelling in Vietnam.

After Hamala’s arraignment, Cao’s grandson, Zesson Tran, stated the day of Cao’s loss of life was “very shattering … as if the world simply collapsed. Our household’s going by means of exhausting occasions, however we’re staying sturdy.”

Hamala, who has been in custody with out bail because the date of his arrest, didn’t enter a plea at his first court docket look in June as a result of his protection legal professional declared a doubt as to his competency to face trial.

Defendants are thought-about mentally incompetent to face trial if they’re unable to know the character of the felony proceedings or help their legal professional of their protection. As soon as a doubt is asserted, these defendants are sometimes evaluated by docs to find out whether or not they’re match to face trial.

Deputy District Legal professional Amelia Diedrich stated she couldn’t touch upon the specifics of Hamala’s psychological well being proceedings, however stated the prosecution and protection stipulated final week that he was competent. She additionally stated Hamala was by no means declared incompetent by a decide at any level.

Hamala faces as much as 26 years to life if convicted of homicide and a weapon allegation. He’s due again in court docket in January.

–Metropolis Information Service