OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Omeed Popal, 36, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on July 15 for using his black Honda Pilot to strike and kill 54-year-old Stephen Jay Wilson as he walked on Fremont Boulevard south of Ferry Lane in Fremont late on the morning of Aug. 29, 2006.
However, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon then ruled that Popal would not face any prison time because he found that Popal was not guilty because he was insane at the time of the killing.
Reardon based his July 15 ruling on reports by four psychiatrists who concluded that he suffered from significant mental health issues before the killing and was not sane at the time of the incident.
Reardon said Friday that he agrees with a report that Napa State Hospital is the appropriate place for Popal to be housed and receive treatment for his mental illness.
Prosecutor Tim Wellman said the recommendation that Popal be placed in Napa “was what I expected.”
Wellman said Popal already has been at the Napa hospital for a long time because he was placed there after a San Francisco judge found him not guilty by reason of insanity for targeting and striking pedestrians in San Francisco with his car shortly after he killed Wilson.
Popal hit more than a dozen San Francisco pedestrians and one victim was so badly injured that she is now a quadriplegic.
Before he was found not guilty by reason of insanity, Popal faced a slew of charges filed by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, including 16 counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
Popal’s attorney, Tony Cheng, said Popal likely will spend the rest of his life at the Napa institution unless doctors determine at some future time that he has been restored to sanity.
Cheng said finding Popal not guilty be reason of insanity and placing him in Napa was “the right thing to do given the expert’s reports and the fact that he has suffered from a lengthy and well-documented history of mental illness.”
Cheng said Popal suffers from both a bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia.
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