With attorneys uncertain how to proceed with an arraignment of an apparently incapacitated man charged with killing four people, including a 9-year-old boy, in a shooting rampage in Orange last week, an Orange County Superior Court judge Tuesday ordered the defense attorneys to go to the defendant's hospital room this afternoon so she can see his condition for herself via a video conference call.
The arraignment of Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, 44, was postponed Friday and Monday due to the defendant's medical condition.
A hearing Tuesday morning grew testy when Gonzalez's attorney, Ken Morrison of the Orange County Public Defender's Office, attempted to explain why he was appearing remotely but not from his client's hospital room and could not elaborate on why he did not believe the defendant was capable of either participating in an arraignment or agreeing to a continuance.
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Morrison said he was not able to get his client's permission to waive his appearance in a hearing from his hospital room.
"I can also represent that if (the judge) appeared in Mr. Gonzalez's hospital room today I would still not be able to proceed with his arraignment,'' Morrison said.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Cheri Pham asked Morrison if he was refusing to appear with his client on camera from the hospital room so they could either reschedule the hearing or hold it.
"I am absolutely not'' refusing to do anything the judge ordered, Morrison replied.
"He is in the hospital as of this morning,'' Morrison said. "What his condition is, I don't really know.''
Morrison said he has also been unable to get any specific medical information on his client.
Pham ordered Morrison and his co-counsel to return to the defendant's hospital room for another remote, live-streamed hearing so she could see Gonzalez for himself and determine whether he is able to grant a waiver to hold the arraignment at another time.
"The last information I have is he is still in the hospital and still incapacitated,'' the judge said.
Morrison said, "I don't personally believe he is in any condition to be arraigned or make knowing or intelligent decisions about his case.''
At the 1:45 p.m. call, the arraignment was once again postponed to the following day, and asked attorneys to check the suspect's condition then to determine if they could proceed.
Gonzalez was charged Friday with multiple murder and attempted murder charges, making him eligible for the death penalty if he's convicted.
Prosecutors have not yet decided whether to purse the ultimate punishment.
Gonzalez was shot last Wednesday by police in the courtyard of the building at 202 W. Lincoln Ave.
On Friday, Morrison said in court -- via a video conference from his client's bedside -- that the defendant remained unconscious at that time.
Gonzalez has opened his eyes, but is unable to communicate with his attorneys, he said.
The charges against Gonzalez include four counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder of a police officer and one count of attempted murder.
He also faces a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders and sentence enhancements alleging the personal discharge of a firearm causing death, premeditation, personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, personal use of a firearm and personal discharge of a firearm.
Police say the defendant specifically targeted Unified Homes, a real estate company selling manufactured homes, and was acquainted either personally or professionally with all of the victims, who were identified by police as 50-year-old company co-owner Luis Tovar; his daughter, 28-year-old Jenevieve Raygoza; 9-year-old Matthew Farias; and company employee Leticia Solis Guzman, 58.
Raygoza, who worked for her father's company, is survived by her husband and two young children. The 9-year-old boy's mother, Blanca Ismeralda Tamayo, remains hospitalized in critical condition.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the child's family pay for funeral costs. The boy's father, Rafael Arias, said that his only child had hoped to be an astronaut or a police officer.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said at a Thursday news conference that "a little boy died in his mother's arms as she was trying to save him during this horrific massacre.''
The first of multiple 911 calls came in seconds before 5:35 p.m. Wednesday, according to Orange Police Department Lt. Jennifer Amat. The caller said a man was shooting into a business from across the street, she said. The first officers arrived on scene at 5:36 p.m.
Police were initially unable to enter due to bicycle cable locks that the suspect used to secure the north and south gates of the courtyard from the inside, Amat said. Two officers spotted him in the courtyard, and the shooting that left the suspect wounded happened through the gate before they were able to get inside, Amat said.
"It is our understanding the suspect was firing toward officers,'' Amat said Thursday.
A sergeant who responded to the scene had bolt cutters in the squad car that officers used to lop off the locks, she said. After officers gained access to the courtyard, they tended to the suspect and the boy's mother.
Officers eventually found three more deceased victims. One woman was found on an upstairs outdoor landing; one man was found inside an office building; and another woman was found inside a separate building.
Police recovered a semi-automatic handgun inside the complex, along with a backpack containing pepper spray, handcuffs and ammunition believed to belong to the suspect, Amat said.
Gonzalez, whose last known address was in Fullerton, had recently been living out of a motel room in Anaheim, Amat said, and arrived at the business in a rental car.
Other details on Gonzalez's background were not provided, but Amat said the "preliminary motive is believed to be related to a business and personal relationship'' between the suspect and the victims.
Gonzalez's ex-wife, Aleyda Mendoza, used to work for United Homes. She said that she has no idea what sparked the shootings.
The NBC4 I-Team discovered the suspect was charged in April 2015 with misdemeanor counts of child abuse and endangerment, assault with a deadly weapon, dissuading a witness from reporting a crime and battery in a case in which he allegedly assaulted a boy in his care or custody with an umbrella on March 31, 2015, in Anaheim.
The child abuse, assault with a deadly weapon and dissuading a witness counts were dismissed on Nov. 30, 2015, and the battery charge was dismissed on Sept. 26, 2017, because of a law that allows for the expunging of convictions if a defendant clears probation successfully.