A judge Monday ordered a psychological evaluation for a 33-year-old woman accused of torturing an elderly man to death and dumping his body in a La Quinta trash bin.
Cristina Noelle Canimo, of Palm Desert, was arrested Nov. 22, the day after the body of Ronald Clarke, 87, was found inside a trash bin outside a home in a gated community in the 43500 block of east Parkway Esplanade.
Riverside County sheriff’s officials later confirmed the home was being used as a residential-care facility. Canimo was a caregiver at the facility, and Clark was a patient, authorities said.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Ronald Johnson on Monday granted a defense motion for Canimo to undergo the evaluation, which includes a one- on-one interview with a psychologist, who will also pour over Canimo’s medical and mental-health records.
After the evaluation is completed, Patricia Kirkish is expected to prepare a report that a judge will use to decide whether Canimo is competent to stand trial.
Canimo pleaded not guilty to murder and torture charges earlier this month. She remains housed without bail at the Indio jail.
The murder charge against Canimo includes a special circumstance allegation of inflicting torture during the commission of a murder, making her eligible for the death penalty if the District Attorney’s Office decides to pursue it. Prosecutors allege she used a knife, box cutter, screwdriver and a hammer in the crime.
The name of the board-and-care facility has not been officially released, but The Desert Sun reported that Sunbrook Residential Care at 43-574 E. Parkway Esplanade was visited by California Department of Social Services investigators the week of the murder regarding the death of one of its residents.
Sunbrook has been the subject of several evaluation and complaint investigation reports since 2015, the newspaper reported.
A motive for the killing remains a mystery.
Canimo is scheduled to return to court for a felony settlement conference on March 6.