Mental Competency of Man Accused of Killing Retired Stockton Officer Questioned

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Judge Ron A. Northup of San Joaquin County Court suspended all court proceedings for Rafael Watts after he showed signs of potential mental incompetency.

The 59-year-old is accused of killing former Stockton police officer Laurits "Pepe" Petersen on Feb. 23.

He was supposed to be in court last Friday. But he never made it because of what the court called behavioral issues.

Monday, he was not wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, but a red one, indicating he is a security risk -- a danger to himself or others.

"Did you hear what I just said when I came out and talked about the right to trial and preliminary hearing. Did you hear your rights?" Judge Northup asked.

"Some of it, but there was a lot of interruption, and I couldn't hear with my concentration," Watts answered.

The courtroom was silent. There was no interruption.

The judge suspended all court proceedings after there was a question of Watts' mental competence.

Family of Pepe Petersen walked out of the courtroom crying.

"He is going to try whatever he can to try to get out of this," Petersen's son, Dennis said.

"It will delay things, but it won't delay the investigation and it won't dismiss any charges. Those will all go forward. We are just going to be waiting for doctors reports," Robert Himelblau said. He is the supervising deputy district attorney handing the case.

Petersen's son, Dennis wore his father's detective badge over his heart to court.
He said his family will try to be as patient as they can, to see justice served.

"I have confidence in the Stockton Police Department, and I have confidence in the DA's Office that they are going to see this through and this person, as I call him a non-human at this point, is going to see justice for what he did to my father," Dennis Petersen said.

Tuesday at 9 a.m. Watts will return to court to have doctors assigned to test his mental competency.

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