News

1996 murder defendant to stand trial

An elderly man charged with killing a South Kitsap woman in 1996 and accused of faking insanity to avoid prosecution for nearly 10 years was declared competent last week to stand trial.

On Friday, Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Russell W. Hartman found Joseph Domingo Guendulain, 73, competent to stand trial in the killing of Christine Rose, his estranged girlfriend who was found stabbed to death in their McCormick Woods home in April of 1996.

After being found attempting to fly to South America, Guendulain was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Shortly afterward, however, he was declared unfit for trial and admitted to Western State Hospital in Lakewood.

He was then re-committed every six months thereafter until last June, when, according to court documents, his treatment team determined he no longer met the criteria for civil commitment — which is either posing an imminent danger to himself or others, or gravelly disabled.

Kitsap County prosecutors then re-filed the murder charge against Guendulain, and he was ordered in July to undergo another evaluation to determine his competency to stand trial.

This time, Margaret Dean and Marilyn Ronnei — both evaluators for the hospital’s Program for Forensic Evaluations in Corrections and the Community — determined that Guendulain is not insane, and instead has been “feigning” mental illness to avoid standing trial.

“(Guendulain) presents as an individual who is attempting to fabricate and feign mental illness,” states the report prepared by Dean, a psychiatrist, and Ronnei, a psychologist. “(He) demonstrates a strong motivation to portray himself as (ill) ... but was unable to do so in a consistent or convincing manner.”

They based their conclusions on various observations, including their own interviews with the defendant during which he exhibited “manipulative behavior,” but also on statements from the hospital staff which described Guendulain as consistently “working all the angles” to his advantage.

The evaluators also noted that during his stay at the hospital, Guendulain’s room was always kept “neat and orderly and his (personal) grooming was impeccable ... which is inconsistent with a severely demented or psychotic individual.”

According to court documents, Guendulain was 63 when he was originally arrested for the murder of Rose, whom he was living with on McCormick Woods Drive.

Rose was found dead on April 12, 1996, by Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies after her friend reported that she had not heard from the victim for several days. An autopsy revealed Rose died of a stab wound to the chest, and approximated the time of death as six days earlier.

Deputies reported that Guendulain had not been heard from or seen since April 6, when a local bartender said he came into his bar and drank several glasses of scotch. Acquaintances of both said the defendant was very possessive of Rose and known to be violent.

Guendulain was tracked driving over the Canadian border the day after Rose’s murder, then later boarded a plane to Spain. The following month, Guendulain was arrested in Kitsap County when he returned to town. Authorities learned he was planning to fly to Chile.

Guendulain’s trial, which is expected to last three weeks, is scheduled to begin May 3.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Nov 28
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates