Criminal proceedings have been suspended for a man charged with felony vandalism in breaking windows and a door at the Metropolitan Community Church in San Diego so he can undergo a mental competency exam.
Richard Meza, 28, was remanded to jail Feb. 16 after his attorney requested the mental competency exam, saying there was a doubt that Meza understood the criminal process.
Meza had been free on bond but is now being held without bail in the central jail downtown. He previously has pleaded not guilty to two felony charges.
He is charged with vandalizing a house of worship and committing vandalism with over $4000 in damages at the church at 2633 Denver Street.
MCC security cameras captured images of a man throwing a cinderblock, rocks, and a soda bottle at two windows and a glass door at 4 a.m. on January 10. The church sent the images to San Diego Police and Meza was arrested.
The damage to the glass door on the first floor and other windows comes to $4,272, according to the church’s GoFundMe page, which raised several thousand dollars. The windows and door are boarded up.
Senior Pastor Dan Koeshall said other people donated funds as well to total $4,074, which almost pays for the damages. Koeshall said the church has a $2,500 deductible in the insurance policy, and they decided not to make a claim.
Another church donated funds along with a local judge and many others, some from out of state contributed to the GoFundMe page.
The impact resistant film on the windows prevented the projectiles from coming inside the church, Koeshall said.
Koeshall said the congregation has prayed for the vandal, but that he needs to be held accountable.
“I would want him to get help and then also to prevent that anger from coming out on another innocent person or innocent place,” said Koeshall in an interview with KGTV Channel 10.
The judge on Feb. 16 scheduled a March 30 mental competency hearing before another judge in San Diego Superior Court. Meza will be evaluated in jail and a psychologist will write a report for a judge to read and decide as to his mental competency.
If Meza is found mentally competent, a preliminary hearing would be set with criminal proceedings resumed. If he is found to be mentally incompetent, he would be committed to a state mental hospital where he would be treated and later returned to San Diego once he regains his competency.
The GoFundMe request says MCC “serves a very diverse community where everyone is welcome–regardless of faith, background, race, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”