The attorney of Erik Deno, the Corning man accused of killing his mother at their home on Oct. 8, appeared in Tehama County Superior Court on his clients behalf Tuesday to review Deno’s declared mental incompetency to stand trial and assist in his own defense. Deno currently remains in a mental facility, said Tehama County District Attorney Gregg Cohen.
In October, Deno’s attorney posed doubt to the court concerning his client’s mental competency. In response, the court ordered Deno undergo a mental evaluation be conducted by a Dr. Caruso, Cohen added.
“On Nov. 14, Dr. Caruso provided a written report to the court stating it is his opinion Erik Deno is not mentally competent to stand trial,” he said. “The court suspended the case proceedings at that time and Erik Deno was then transported to a facility where he was to undergo treatment to restore his mental competency.”
However, the court recently received a report from Deno’s current treatment facility stating its program was not appropriate for the treatment Deno requires and asked that he be placed in a locked setting in a California Department of State Hospital.
In court on Tuesday, it was agreed Deno would be transferred to a state hospital where he could be administered antipsychotic medications on an involuntary basis if required.
When, or if, Deno is ever declared mentally competent to stand trial, he will be brought back to Tehama County and court proceedings and prosecution will be reinstated, according to Cohen.
Deno is accused of strangling and killing this mother, Angelika Deno, 55, at their Marty Court residence in Corning. After allegedly killing his mother, Deno reportedly placed her body in the home’s outdoor trash bin where it was later located by Corning police.
Due to his declared mental incompetency, Deno has not entered a plea and will not be scheduled to do so until he has been declared mentally competent, said Tehama County District Attorney Elect Matt Rogers.
Neighbors of the Deno’s said on the day of the alleged murder, Erik Deno was seen acting strangely and irrationally throughout the day.
One neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, said Erik Deno knocked on her door and when she answered he asked if “Waldo” was home.
“I knew him (Deno) because he had come knocking at my door a few times within the past year or so. I knew his mother. When he asked for Waldo, I told him no one named Waldo lives here. He then asked me if he could talk to Jesus,” she said.
Explaining that her boyfriend has long hair and a beard, she believed Deno was asking to talk to her boyfriend.
“I told him no, that Jesus wasn’t here. He then said he needed help to move Gilda, and that if he didn’t get help he would ‘put her on the street, so just let them know that,’” the neighbor added.
She said almost the entire time he was talking to her, his facial expression was completely blank, except for when he talked about moving the body, then his face twitched.
As soon as Deno left, the neighbor called the police and asked for them to do a welfare check on Angelika Deno.
When Corning police arrived at the Deno residence, they initially got no response.
After receiving more information on the situation, they recontacted the home and made entry into the residence, the police department reported.
Officers located Erik Deno in the bedroom at which time he became combative, and following a brief struggle was detained, police said.
Shortly after, police located the victim’s body in the trash bin in the residence’s driveway, according to Corning police Sgt. Kylee Stroing.
The neighbor who originally called police that day, said Angelika Deno had told her previously that her son, Erik, had been in a mental institution and when he was released he came to live with her, and that dealing with him was very difficult.
“She was a very nice, nice lady, and this is just breaking my heart,” she said.