Transient man pleads not guilty by reason of insanity to 2014 San Mateo County murder

REDWOOD CITY (BCN) — A 55-year-old transient man entered pleaded not guilty to murder and not guilty by reason of insanity on Thursday for a 2014 killing in the Redwood City area, prosecutors and the man’s attorney said on Friday.

On June 9, 2014, at 8:15 p.m. San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies responded to reports that a man was lying face down on the sidewalk at Middlefield Road and Fourth Street in unincorporated San Mateo County near Redwood City.

According to prosecutors, deputies found 46-year-old Michael Gonzalez on the ground when they arrived and his alleged assailant Paul Ahern standing three feet away.

Prosecutors allege that before the assault Ahern screamed that he would kill Gonzalez.

Prosecutors allege that Ahern slammed the victim’s head against the ground, punched Gonzalez’s head multiple times, slammed his head into a car four times and put Gonzalez in a chokehold for ten minutes.

Gonzalez died before being taken to a hospital.

Both men lived in Redwood City.

Defense attorney Gerritt Rutgers asked Judge Elizabeth Lee Thursday to postpone the trial so he could prepare more. Ahern will appear in court on June 10 to set a trial date, prosecutors said.

Ahern was scheduled to enter a plea on Aug. 4, 2014, but criminal proceedings stopped Aug. 8 to determine whether Ahern was competent to stand trial.

On Sept. 30, doctors determined Ahern was not competent and in March 2015 he was sent to Napa State Hospital. By August, doctors deemed him competent, according to prosecutors.

On July 7, doctors will present evidence on whether Ahern was sane when the killing occurred.

Ahern remains in custody and is not allowed to post bail.

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