Las Vegas Sun

July 30, 2014

Currently: 104° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

State high court rules Desai is competent to stand trial in hepatitis C case

Image

Sam Morris

Dipak Desai enters court for a competency proceeding Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011. A psychiatrist testified Friday, Jan. 27, 2012, that he thinks Desai is competent to stand trial and was exaggerating the extent of his memory loss.

The Nevada Supreme Court has denied the petition of Dipak Desai to suspend his Las Vegas murder trial to hold a hearing whether he is competent to stand trial.

The court in a 2-1 decision Monday said the record does not include substantial evidence that Desai is incompetent to stand trial. It upheld the decision of District Judge Valerie Adair who rejected the motion for a competency evaluation hearing.

Desai is charged with second-degree murder, theft, two counts of obtaining money under false pretenses, six counts of criminal neglect of patients, 10 counts of insurance fraud and eight counts of performance of an act in reckless disregard of person resulting in substantial bodily harm.

The charges result from the death of one of his patients in the 2007 hepatitis C outbreak. He is accused of reusing syringes and vials in endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures at his clinics. Seven patients contracted the hepatitis.

The court said there was a prior competency hearing. And an “independent medical evaluation report prepared more recently confirms the prior findings that Desai embellished the effects of his prior strokes, particularly regarding the profound memory loss that he claims,” said the order signed by Justices Mark Gibbons and Ron Parraguirre.

Justice Michael Cherry dissented, saying Judge Adair abused her discretion in rejecting the motion by the defense for an evidentiary hearing to further address the independent medical report.

Defense Attorney Richard Wright said in his petition to the Supreme Court that a there is doubt whether Desai is competent to stand trial.

Wright said Desai’s “present ability to receive, process and express speech and recall pertinent facts is impaired to such a degree that he cannot sufficiently function during trial.”

The majority opinion said Desai could raise the issue during or following his trial or the judge on her own could consider the competence.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy