A man who allegedly fired several shots into his father’s Los Osos home is mentally ill, his attorney said Friday, when he formally declared a doubt to his client’s competency.
The attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, also said Turner Newman was mentally ill two years ago, after Newman was arrested with a carload of ammunition near a San Luis Obispo school.
“He’s a good kid, except that he’s gotten real sick, especially in the last couple of years,” Funke-Bilu said outside of court. “He’s gone downhill — drastically.”
In 2013, employees at a Heritage Oaks Bank in San Luis Obispo saw a dazed and confused Newman sitting in his car at the bank’s parking lot, which was across the street from Pacific Beach continuation high school, where his mother worked.
When police arrived, they found loaded guns, ammunition, a machete and restraints in his car. Investigators later found he had done Google searches on drugging, kidnapping and raping women. He had also researched hiding corpses and the weapons used in the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.
A pre-sentence report by the San Luis Obispo County probation department concluded that he was at a medium or high risk to re-offend, writing “one is left to assume that he is dangerous and had every intention to use the weapons.”
But Funke-Bilu, who represented him in that case as well, said in 2013 that Newman was a sick individual who needed help. At the time, he said, Newman had most of his belongings in the car. Meanwhile, his mother said Newman — a veteran of the Army’s special forces — had never hurt anyone.
“He needs help,” Melissa Newman told the court at his May 2013 sentencing. “Jail will not help. Highly supervised treatment will help him.”
He was sentenced to five years in prison for carrying a loaded firearm, carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle and carrying a firearm at a public school. With some of that sentence suspended and with credit for time served, Newman was released within the past year.
Funke-Bilu said Newman was not adequately treated for mental illness both at the County Jail and while under community supervision. And his condition has worsened, Funke-Bilu said.
“It’s very gut wrenching to see him deteriorate as much as Turner has,” he said.
On Tuesday, Newman allegedly shot at his father’s home several times and was later apprehended in a parking lot in Atascadero.
He is now charged with four new felonies, including attempted murder.
At his arraignment Friday, Funke-Bilu declared a doubt to Newman’s competency to assist his defense and understand the charges against him. As a result, Newman’s case was suspended, and two psychiatric experts were hired to examine him. If he is declared incompetent, he will be sent to a state hospital for treatment until his competency is restored.
After the hearing, Funke-Bilu said he couldn’t even communicate with his client, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“It appeared to me that he was listening to voices,” Funke-Bilu said.
While he knew Newman had a mental illness before, Funke-Bilu said, it wasn’t bad enough to be declared incompetent.
In the previous case, Funke-Bilu said Newman had no previous history and had received medals for his two-year Army service. At his sentencing, Superior Court Judge Jacquelyn Duffy ordered that he be evaluated for possible treatment of mental illness.