Suspect in Christmas Day killings warned to take medication or face forced injections

Appearing pale with unkempt hair in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, murder suspect Andrew Downs was warned Tuesday by a judge to take his medications or risk forced injections at Atascadero State Hospital.

Downs, who turns 21 today, is accused of shooting Kathy Yeager and her sister Beverly Reilly on Christmas Day last year at a home in Santa Margarita.

Downs allegedly shot the two women, who were strangers to him, at a residence where they were house-sitting.

Reilly was sleeping in the home when Downs entered and shot her with a rifle, according to a police report. Yeager had returned to the home with Dennis Reilly, Beverly’s husband, and went to check on Reilly in the bedroom when she was shot, too.

Dennis Reilly managed to flee and hide from Downs, who had charged at him, the report said.

Downs’ lawyer, Matthew Guerrero, has entered two pleas to all charges — one of not guilty by reason of insanity and one of not guilty.

Judge John Trice said Tuesday at a scheduled pre-trial hearing that he had learned that Downs has sometimes neglected to take his medication to treat his mental illness. Downs has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Trice said that he needed to make sure that Downs was alert and aware of what was going on during court proceedings. Downs’ trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 10.

Trice admonished Downs to take his medication or risk being kept in an isolated cell at County Jail, where he is now in custody in a cell that houses three to four inmates at a time.

Trice also said that Downs may be required to receive forced injections at Atascadero State Hospital.

“I don’t want you to be there (in ASH), you don’t want to be there, and these gentlemen (the lawyers involved with the case) don’t want you to be there,” Trice said to Downs.

During the discussion, Downs answered in the affirmative multiple times that he understood Trice and would follow his directions.

Downs is charged with two counts of premeditated murder, first-degree residential burglary and attempted murder of an Atascadero man he allegedly tried to beat to death with a wrench after the shootings.

Deputy District Attorney Dave Pomeroy is handling the case for the prosecution. Downs is scheduled to appear for an update on his condition before Trice on Nov. 29.