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Atascadero man pleads not guilty to Christmas killings

Andrew Wesley Downs in a San Luis Obispo courtroom during his arraignment on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010.
Andrew Wesley Downs in a San Luis Obispo courtroom during his arraignment on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010.

The Atascadero man suspected of killing two women on Christmas pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning.

Andrew Wesley Downs, 20, was arrested in connection with the shooting deaths of sisters Beverly Reilly and Kathy Yeager at a home on the Santa Maragarita Ranch.

Defense attorney Matthew Guerrero asked the judge to order an evaluation for Downs to see if he is mentally competent. The results of the evaluation are expected Jan. 27.

In the courtroom, Downs swayed left and right in his chair with his head hanging down. A mop of matted light brown hair hung over his face for nearly 10 minutes as he waited for Judge Jacquelyn Duffy to address him. Downs only opened his eyes briefly to speak with his attorney, be addressed by the court and walk slowly in his shackles back to the holding cell.

Guerrero said he had not yet been notified whether his client had been medicated.

Downs was dressed in a black-and-white striped jumpsuit, standing out from defendants in other crimes wearing orange jumpsuits also arraigned Wednesday. The stripes mark high-risk defendants.

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