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Ayres' competency in question
March 17, 2010, 01:00 AM By Michelle Durand

The former San Mateo child psychiatrist whose first molestation trial ended with a hung jury may be incompetent to face the same charges again, according to his defense attorney.

The question put William Hamilton Ayres’ trial on hold and could send him to a state hospital for treatment rather than potentially prison.

Defense attorney Jonathan McDougall indicated his concerns over Ayres’ mental state yesterday and Judge Beth Freeman appointed two doctors to evaluate whether he is able to aid in his own defense. Those reports are due back April 28.

Freeman also vacated the scheduled April 12 jury trial because the competency decision will not yet be determined by that date. If Ayres is deemed competent, a new date will be set.

Sanity is a person’s state of mind at the time of an alleged crime while competency is his or her ability to aid in their own defense.

McDougall did not return a call for comment about the request.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said it is not clear what to make of the request until prosecutors see the doctors’ reports but regrets the further delay.

"We have a desire to see justice for the victims,” Wagstaffe said.

Ayres’ first trial ended in a mistrial July 27 after jurors deadlocked in varied amounts on every count.  

Ayres, 77, is accused of molesting six former male patients when they were aged 9 to 13 between 1988 and 1996 under the guise of medical exams. Ayres pleaded not guilty and testified that, while he did perform physical exams, they were in the course of treatment and not inappropriate.

Former defense attorney Doron Weinberg, who was replaced after the mistrial, never raised the competency question before or during the trial.

If Ayres is found incompetent to stand trial, he will be sent to a state mental hospital for treatment until doctors there find him fit. If not, criminal proceedings will be reinstated and Ayres will be tried on nine counts of lewd and lascivious activity and a special allegation of substantial sexual activity.

The charges, plus the special allegation, carry a life prison term.

Ayres remains free from custody on a $750,000 bail bond.


Michelle Durand can be reached by e-mail: michelle@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. 


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