Gunnarsson to undergo ‘mental competency’ exam

Gunnarsson to undergo ‘mental competency’ examBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

After refusing to appear in court in Bakersfield for the second time on June 18, murder suspect Daniel Gunnarsson’s preliminary hearing was pushed to Tuesday, June 22, where it was suspended yet again while Gunnarsson undergoes a mental competency exam.

The 20-year-old Ridgecrest resident was arrested and charged for the May murder of 21-year-old Kathryn “Katie” Pham, also a local resident and former classmate of Gunnarsson’s.

According to Penal Code 1368 PC, a judge may call for a psychiatrist to evaluate a defendant if their ability mental competency to stand trial is called into question. 1368 PC defines mental competency as the ability to “understand the nature and purpose of the criminal proceedings against them, assist their attorney in presenting a defense and understand their own status in the criminal prosecution process.”

A hearing for the competency findings is scheduled for July 13 in Bakersfield. Gunnarsson continues to be held without bail.

Hundreds of friends, family and members of the community rallied at an outdoor candlelight vigil in support of the victim’s family last month. Many also attended Pham’s funeral service and celebration of life at Immanuel Baptist Church on Saturday, June 19.

The News Review will publish updates as available.

Laura Austin photo: Katie Pham’s father, Thomas, leaves Immanuel Baptist Church with her ashes following the 21-year-old murder victim’s well-attended memorial service last Saturday.

Story First Published: 2021-06-25