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SANTA CRUZ – Mental health evaluations are still under way for a 29-year-old man accused of intentionally driving into another car and killing a Santa Cruz woman on Highway 17.
Eric Rsel Weers was charged with first-degree murder for the July incident, which killed Ana Luz Barajas, a 48-year-old mother of four who worked as a sterile-processing technician at Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center. In January, he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity to that charge.
An insanity defense requires proof by way of a psychiatric evaluation. Not guilty by reason of insanity is based on the claim that a defendant was so mentally disturbed at the time of the crime that he/she lacked the capacity to have intended to commit
Weers’ evaluations originally were scheduled to be completed by Monday, but prosecutors told the court that the court-appointed doctors need more time to conduct the evaluations. Weers, who appeared in court Monday and remains in custody, was ordered to return June 4, at which point the mental health examinations must be completed.
Prosecutors say Weers was driving an Acura SUV on Ocean Street on July 11 when he drove north on southbound Highway 17 and struck the car driven by Barajas.
California Highway Patrol officers have said that the investigation indicated Weers had driven the wrong way on the highway with the intention of hitting another vehicle and causing harm. He was uninjured but his car exploded
into flames after the collision. Barajas died at the scene.
Weers’ attorney, William Weigel, has said his client has a history of mental illness and was living in a subsidized housing for psychiatric patients in Santa Cruz at the time of the crash.
Follow Sentinel reporter Jessica M. Pasko on Twitter @jmpasko96
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