Bradford R. Fenocchio
PLACER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240
Roseville, California 95678
For Immediate Release
Date: January 19, 2010
Public Information Officer
Assistant District Attorney
DEFENDANT IN 2006 MURDER CASE
IS SENT TO NAPA STATE HOSPITAL
Eric Martin Minchak, accused of using a knife in the death of a woman at a Roseville gas station in 2006, has been placed under the conservatorship of Placer County and sent to Napa State Hospital for continued mental health care.
Minchak, 31, of Pennsylvania has spent the last three years in Atascadero State Hospital after a judge ruled that he was mentally incompetent to stand trial on charges of robbery and the first-degree murder of the victim.
Prosecutor David Broady of the Placer County District Attorney’s Office said that defendants who are declared mentally incompetent to stand trial can be held for a maximum of three years in a state hospital.
“At the end of those three years, the person would either have to be released or held civilly under a conservatorship, which means that the government steps in on the person’s behalf to provide for his care,” Broady said.
Broady said the action taken Jan. 13 by a conservatorship judge in Placer County Superior Court “ensures the public safety by keeping the defendant locked up.”
The Placer County Public Guardian, under the office of the county’s Health and Human Services, has been appointed the conservator, Broady said.
Each year, Minchak, who is represented by the Placer County Public Defender’s Office, will be entitled to a hearing to determine if he should remain under the conservatorship, Broady said.
“If and when he is deemed mentally competent, he could be ordered to stand trial for the murder and robbery,” he said.
Broady said the latest action presents “a very difficult aspect” for the members of the slain victim.
“Unfortunately, there is no closure for the family because the case and the criminal charges against Mr. Minchak remain pending,” he said.
The victim, 45, was murdered on April 2, 2006, as she was pumping gasoline into her vehicle at a service station in Roseville.