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Doctors split on yacht thief suspect’s competency
May 01, 2013, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff

Leslie Gardner

Two court-appointed doctors are split on the mental fitness for trial of a Wyoming man accused of stealing a yacht from Sausalito and taking a Santa Cruz couple on a joyride to Pacifica.

One doctor believes Leslie Alan Gardner, 63, of Gillette, Wyo. is able to aid in his own defense while a second concluded he is incompetent. A third doctor’s report due June 13 could determine if Gardner will be hospitalized in a state mental facility or stand trial and possibly incarcerated. If the majority deems Gardner competent, his defense attorney can still demand a trial on the issue.

Gardner has previously pleaded not guilty to grand theft, receiving stolen property in excess of $3.2 million and vandalism in connection with the March 4 theft of the 82-foot vessel “Darling” from the Sausalito Yacht Harbor. Prosecutors say Gardner told a Santa Cruz couple he had inherited a boat and asked if they wanted to take a trip. The three and a fourth person drove to Sausalito where Gardener and the couple climbed aboard with plans to meet the other man down the Peninsula. The three partied on board with beer and pizza before falling asleep.

The yacht was found when it ran aground in shallow water near Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica later the morning of the theft. Sausalito police received a call from the yacht’s owner, John Furth, of Santa Rosa, who was watching news coverage of the incident — then thought to be a rescue mission — and recognized the boat as his own.

All three were initially arrested but the couple were ultimately released because authorities had doubts about whether they knew the yacht was stolen.

Gardner is in custody on $1 million bail and criminal proceedings remain on hold pending the competency conclusion.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102.

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