LAS VEGAS (AP) — Questions about the mental health of a suspect accused of the apparently random stabbing deaths of two people last week in Las Vegas again delayed his arraignment on Wednesday.
Asked by a judge if he understood the two murder charges he faces, Richi Orlando Briones answered, “Uh, kinda.”
Justice of the Peace Cynthia Cruz rescheduled Briones’ court appearance for May 3 after court-appointed defense attorney David Schieck expressed what he called “substantial questions” about Briones’ ability to understand charges against him.
Briones, 32, is being held in a mental health unit at the Clark County jail.
Schieck said he wants to review records of Briones’ previous treatment at mental hospitals in Las Vegas and added that police raised concerns about Briones’ mental health after the three apparently random attacks on April 19.
Briones’ mother has said her son had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo said a second murder charge was filed Wednesday after Israel Schwarts, 52, of Las Vegas died late Monday of a stab wound to the side.
Schwarts, a fire protection company employee, was near his work van when he was attacked with a large survival-type knife behind a sushi restaurant where a witness reported the attacker said something about drugs and a cartel, according to a police report.
Balente Gonzalez, 31, died shortly after he was approached from behind and stabbed multiple times in a nearby gas station convenience store. Police said store video showed the attack, but the footage has not been made public pending court proceedings.
Police said Briones earlier tried to attack another man who ran to a nearby store and escaped injury.
Briones also tried to buy a shotgun at a sporting goods store, where he put his name on a purchase application but was denied the purchase “because of his past history,” the police report said.
According to court records, Briones underwent a mental evaluation before a state court judge ruled in January that he was competent to face a felony auto theft charge. The case was dismissed in February.