Crime

Morro Bay man accused of killing father with machete found not fit to stand trial

William Joel Schonberger appears in Superior Court last month during his arraignment on a single murder charge following the death of his father, William John Schonberger, on Dec. 9 in Morro Bay.
William Joel Schonberger appears in Superior Court last month during his arraignment on a single murder charge following the death of his father, William John Schonberger, on Dec. 9 in Morro Bay. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

A 22-year-old facing a charge of murder after being accused of killing his father in Morro Bay last month will not immediately stand trail. A pair of court-ordered forensic psychologists found the man to be mentally incompetent Thursday.

The case against William Joel Schonberger will now be referred to San Luis Obispo County Mental Health Services, which will recommend placement for him while he undergoes treatment, Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham said Thursday.

Given the seriousness of the charge, Schonberger will likely be placed in the custody of the Department of State Hospitals and treated at Atascadero State Hospital, where he will remain until his competency is restored or for a maximum of three years, Cunningham said.

Mental Health Services will file its report at Schonberger’s next court hearing Jan. 18.

Schonberger was arrested Dec. 9 after contacting California Highway Patrol officers in the Avila Beach area and allegedly telling them he may have injured a family member. Morro Bay police were notified and located the body of 59-year-old William John Schonberger, the younger Schonberger’s father, inside a home on the 400 block of Napa Avenue in Morro Bay.

The complaint filed by the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office states that Schonberger killed his father with a machete.

Schonberger has yet to enter a plea; forensic psychologists for the defense and prosecutors were assigned at a Dec. 14 hearing.

The younger Schonberger is a registered sex offender following a 2014 child pornography possession conviction, according to court records. The Tribune previously reported that prior to moving from Manhattan Beach to Morro Bay to live with his father in February 2016, Schonberger had been placed in an involuntary mental health hold and spent time at a mental health facility in San Pedro.

He remains in custody at San Luis Obispo County Jail, where he’s being held without bail.

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