OAKLAND (BCN) — One Goh, the man accused of killing seven people and injured three others at an Oakland university in 2012, wants to die.
Both prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed Wednesday at the beginning of a hearing to determine his competency to stand trial for the April 2, 2012, shooting at Oikos University that Goh wants the death penalty.
But they disagreed on whether Goh reasonably feels guilty for his crime and simply wants his punishment or if he suffers from persistent delusions that prevent him from understanding the criminal proceedings against him.
The competency hearing is expected to take about two weeks. If found competent, Goh will stand trial for seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. If found to be still incompetent, a three-year deadline to restore competency would lapse and Goh would spend the rest of his life in a psychiatric treatment facility.
Goh, a former student at Oikos, already admitted to Oakland police that he entered the school that morning and opened fire, killing six students and a staff member. The Korean Christian school near Oakland International Airport was founded in 2004.
Before Wednesday’s hearing, Goh sat leaning forward in his red jail jumpsuit, his hands shackled, attentively listening to Assistant Public Defender David Klaus and nodding. He glanced around the courtroom, his eyes alert behind his thick-rimmed glasses. But later he looked straight down, grimacing and breathing heavily.
Criminal proceedings were suspended against Goh in October 2012 and he was moved from Santa Rita Jail to Napa State Hospital. Nearly every psychiatrist’s report since then has found him incapable of understanding the proceedings against him and assisting in his defense.
But after a judge allowed doctors to involuntarily treat Goh with psychotropic medication in February, a July report by Napa State Hospital forensic psychologist Todd Schirmer found him competent to stand trial, leading to Wednesday’s proceedings.
Deputy Public Defender Patrick Jensen called that report an “outlier.”
Jensen said Goh continues to believe he can read people’s minds, that he was covered in a silver foam that communicates with him and that people at the jail and hospital are putting Windex in his food.
He also believes that Oikos administrators were engaged in a conspiracy against him, having school security follow him and putting a camera in his father’s house where he was living so he had to move out and ended up homeless, according to Jensen.
“Mr. Goh continues to believe these things,” Jensen said. “Mr. Goh hallucinates, Mr. Goh talks to himself, Mr. Goh hears voices.”
He is delusional and suffers from paranoid schizophrenia but still does not believe, after three years of hospitalization, that he has any mental health issues, Jensen said.
To bolster their case, Goh’s attorneys had Jessica Ferranti, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California at Davis who examined Goh in 2012 and 2013, re-examine him this year.
Ferranti said that in her early examinations, Goh told her he believes he was involved in a spiritual war and was persecuted by most people he met, isolating him and making him unable to cope with most interactions with other people.
He told her then that he had seen an evil man in the mirror that wasn’t him, a vision that was linked to the religious war he was fighting. According to Ferranti, he told her this year that he had seen the same man in the mirror again.
Deputy District Attorney Stacie Pettigrew said that Goh is unwilling to assist in his defense, but that doesn’t mean he is incompetent to stand trial. Instead, he is so wracked with guilt and remorse that he wants to die to erase the memory of the gruesome shooting he committed that day and to avoid putting his family through any more pain and shame.
“The defendant’s desire for the death penalty does not equal incompetence,” Pettigrew said. “He doesn’t want to assist counsel because this counsel is standing in the way of the ultimate punishment.”
Members of Goh’s treatment team and other psychiatric experts will testify during the hearing, expected to end with a ruling by Judge Gloria Rhynes on Dec. 15.