A young man accused of bludgeoning his 64-year-old father to death with 12-pound dumbbells as he slept in their University City apartment was ordered by a judge Wednesday to undergo a mental-competency evaluation.
Attorneys for Nikola Chivatchev, 24, told Judge Jeffrey Fraser their client was having trouble understanding the nature of the criminal proceedings, said Deputy District Attorney Michael McCann.
Chivatchev — who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murdering his father Alexander — will be examined by doctors to see if he understands the nature of the charges against him and can assist his attorneys at trial.
A hearing is scheduled May 24 to determine if criminal proceedings will be reinstated or the defendant is deemed mentally incompetent and sent to a state mental hospital.
Chivatchev was arrested in the early morning hours of Oct. 7, shortly after he allegedly attacked his father, hitting the older man several times in the head, authorities said.
San Diego police Officer Steve Waldheim testified at a preliminary hearing last year that when he got to the scene, a man was asking the defendant why he killed his father.
"Because he's an (expletive)," the defendant responded, according to the officer.
The defendant, wearing only boxer shorts, was yelling and appeared to be very "amped up,"Waldheim said.
Sgt. Duane Voss testified that he saw a trail of blood leading from the kitchen to a bedroom when he entered the apartment on Judicial Drive.
Voss said he saw two bare feet sticking out from a comforter and pieces of bone fragments and brain matter scattered on the bed.
The sergeant said the victim had massive trauma to the head, and there was no doubt he was dead.
Once he exited back to the hallway, Voss said the defendant blurted out, "I told you I killed him."
The defendant's mother, Ludmilla "Lucy" Chivatchev, testified that she went to bed around 9:30 p.m. Oct. 6 and heard her son and husband talking.
After her husband came to bed, her son entered the bedroom and wanted to talk, so her spouse took a pillow and comforter and went to sleep in his son's room, Ludmilla Chivatchev testified.
Her son asked if his father was good to her and if he had ever beaten her, to which she responded no, the woman testified.
The woman said her son eventually left her bedroom, came back and left again, and she eventually got up to check on him.
On her way to the apartment balcony, the woman said she heard a noise coming from her son's bedroom and ran there.
In the darkness, she said she saw her husband lying on a bed "and my son next to him, hitting him."
Ludmilla Chivatchev said she tried to pull her son away, then wrested a dumbbell away from him and ran screaming down a hallway.
She said she eventually ran back into the room and saw her son hitting his father with a second dumbbell.
"There was blood all over," she said.