Guendulain plea delayed

For the second time in two weeks, a change of plea hearing for an elderly man accused of stabbing a South Kitsap woman 10 years ago was delayed in Kitsap County Superior Court.

“(His change of plea) is still in the ‘possible’ stage,” said Roger Hunko, the defense attorney representing Joseph Guendulain, a 73-year-old man charged with killing his roommate, Christine Rose, in 1996, when she was 42.

Last month, Guendulain’s trial date of May 3 was stricken in anticipation of him accepting a plea agreement for a second-degree murder charge in Rose’s death.

The first change of plea hearing was held May 19, but Hunko could not appear in court due to a family emergency, so another hearing was scheduled for the following Friday. However, at that hearing Hunko requested another week to confer with his client.

Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Morris did not object, and Judge Russell Hartman agreed to reschedule the hearing for this Friday at 1:30 p.m.

If Guendulain does plead guilty to the charge, Morris said he was recommending a sentence of 123 months, or a little more than 10 years.

According to court documents, Guendulain was 63 when he was originally arrested for the murder of Rose, with whom he was living at 6910 McCormick Woods Drive.

She was found stabbed to death in her bed on April 12, 1996, though it was later determined that she died several days earlier, on April 6.

Shortly after he was charged with murder, Guendulain was declared incompetent to stand trial and was transferred to Western State.

In 2002, a psychiatrist declared him incompetent due to “severe memory problems, and that he had a moderate to high risk of future assaultive behavior, especially toward women.”

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 last summer 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.”

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 Oct 21
Green Edition

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

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates