HANFORD, Calif. (KGET) — Convicted murderer Jamie Osuna, charged with torturing and killing his cellmate at Corcoran State Prison, fired his attorneys Thursday morning in a move that could potentially result in further delays to a case that began in 2019.
Osuna, 34, flanked by eight detentions deputies, requested a Marsden hearing and Kings County Judge Michael Reinhart cleared the courtroom to hear why new counsel should be appointed. The courtroom reopened a few minutes later and Reinhart announced he had granted Osuna’s request.
New counsel could be appointed as early as this afternoon. It was unclear if an expected ruling on Osuna’s competence to stand trial will be postponed.
Melina Benninghoff, one of the attorneys removed from the case, said afterward she could not comment about the proceeding.
When the court reopened, Osuna gave a thumbs up to a woman in the audience. The bailiff warned her not to communicate with the defendant.
Osuna is accused of killing cellmate Luis Romero, 44, the night of March 8, 2019. Romero was decapitated and other body parts were removed. Guards discovered the grisly scene after ordering Osuna to remove a sheet placed over the window of the cell.
Last year, criminal proceedings were suspended when a judge ruled Osuna incompetent to stand trial after hearing testimony from two psychiatrists. Osuna was transferred to a psychiatric inpatient program for treatment, where psychiatrists months later said he had been restored to competency, meaning he understood the charges against him and could assist legal counsel in preparing a defense
At the time of Romero’s death, Osuna was serving life without parole for the torture slaying of Yvette Pena in Bakersfield. He pleaded guilty in 2017 to first-degree murder and other charges filed in Pena’s killing.