SANTA ANA (CNS) – Orange County supervisors Tuesday asked the county counsel’s office to make a request to make a normally private hearing public in the case of an accused mass killer.
The board unanimously voted to ask county counsel Leon Page to make a request of the judge in an Oct. 27 hearing to let the public attend. The hearing is to determine where to house Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, who suffered significant brain damage in a mass shooting on March 31, 2021 in Orange.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Cheri Pham in November determined that Gonzalez was mentally incompetent to assist in his legal defense. That determination was made after experts for the defense and prosecution concluded Gonzalez could not aid in his defense.
Gonzalez was sent to a state mental health institution, which is usually where defendants are sent so their “sanity” can be restored, but Gonzalez does not have a mental health issue. He has been incapacitated so the guardianship hearing is meant to determine where he will be housed if doctors can somehow restore his ability to assist in his defense again.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer pushed to make the hearing public and asked the county board to direct Page to make the request of the judge presiding over the hearing. The judge has the final say whether it is kept private or opened up to the public.
Page also represents the Orange County Public Guardian’s Office, the agency that would represent Gonzalez’s interests in the case. Page said when Spitzer first asked him to make the request he thought the county’s top prosecutor sent it to the wrong office, but later determined it should be left up to the board to make a recommendation.
Orange County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Don Wagner put the matter on Tuesday’s board agenda.
“This is one of the most serious mass shootings in Orange County, devastating to our community,” Spitzer said. “I wholeheartedly believe the privacy interests of this charged defendant is very, very low, but the public interest is extremely high…. We are here today fighting for the victims…. And I need my prosecutors there in open court as well to listen to any potential testimony… There’s evidence to show this defendant is still dangerous.”
Wagner said, “It is very simple. It is one of transparency. We have an opportunity to ask the court to open the conservatorship hearing… We’re not the final decision maker. It’s up to the court. But we have the right to make the request.”
The charges against Gonzalez include four counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder of a police officer and one count of attempted murder. His criminal case is suspended.
Gonzalez 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 Gonzalez specifically targeted Unified Homes, a real estate company selling manufactured homes, at 202 W. Lincoln Ave., 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, was hospitalized in critical condition, but has since been released from the hospital.