“Mental competency” of man accused of killing mom is questioned

Court proceedings now suspended for Bryan Chang

A Los Angeles man accused of beating his mother to death in her ocean-view home in San Diego County will have a “mental health evaluation,” ordered this morning by a superior court judge.

Bryan Chenhua Chang was brought before Judge Aaron Katz today, June 25, 2013.

“Mister Chang does not believe he has a mental illness,” his defense attorney told a judge. But private counsel Kathleen Cannon questioned whether Chang could effectively assist in preparing for his own defense, and Judge Katz suspended criminal proceedings and set a date for a mental competency hearing.

Chang’s mental competency hearing will be August 15, 2013 in San Diego’s downtown courthouse.

Defense attorney Cannon appears to be positioning for an insanity plea. Prosecutor Rachel Solov has charged two special circumstances in the murder case: murder for financial gain, and torture. The “special” charges could mean life in prison without possibility of parole.

The 31-year-old Los Angeles man is accused of killing his mother in her million dollar home in Solana Beach, in January 2010. The number of blows and defensive wounds on the deceased woman seemed to indicate a prolonged beating, which may have led to the torture charges.

Sherry Chu Chang, 60, was financially supporting her adult son but had become disillusioned by his bad behavior and suspected drug use, and the woman was threatening to cut him off, according to evidence produced by prosecutor Rachel Solov.

San Diego Sheriff’s deputies found Sherry’s partially dismembered body in her own home, after a co-worker became concerned when the woman did not show up for work. Deputies found one arm and parts of Sherry’s skull in her refrigerator, and more bits of bone were located in a nightstand in an upstairs bedroom. Most of the deceased woman was in a downstairs bathroom, according to a county medical examiner.

http://sandiegoreader.com/users/photos/2013/jun/25/48111/

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