Defendant in 1996 stabbing to stay in jail

A Kitsap County Superior Court judge denied a request to allow a 72-year-old man charged with stabbing a South Kitsap woman to death in their home nearly 10 years ago to return to Western State Hospital while he awaits a competency hearing scheduled for next month.

Judge Russell W. Hartman denied the motion filed by Roger Hunko, the attorney for Joseph Domingo Guendulain, who is charged with stabbing his estranged girlfriend Christine Rose in April of 1996 in the McCormick Woods home they shared.

Hunko claimed that Guendulain’s mental and physical health has suffered since he was re-booked into Kitsap County Jail last summer on a second-degree murder charge. Not only is his client isolated from human contact nearly 24 hours a day, Hunko said he has also fallen in his cell, injuring his ribs, and complains of frequent, severe headaches.

“I have noticed a sharp decrease in his mental abilities,” Hunko wrote, requesting that Guendulain be returned to WSH near Tacoma until his competency hearing March 3. “I feel that further incarceration under the conditions which he is being held will further deteriorate his mental facilities.”

However, Hartman ruled last month that he saw no compelling reason to move Guendulain from the jail.

The defendant’s hearing next month will determine if he is to stand trial for Rose’s murder, or if he will be returned to the hospital. Although Guendulain was declared unfit to stand trial in 1996 and committed to WSH, at his most recent examination there last fall, two staff doctors disagreed with prior diagnoses and determined he was competent to stand trial.

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.”

Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Morris said despite what the mental evaluations of Guendulain declare, it is still up to a judge whether or not he will ultimately stand trial for Rose’s murder.

According to court documents, Guendulain was 63 when he was originally arrested for the murder of Rose, who 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.

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.

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