Psych evaluation of kidnap suspect extended


More time was granted to assess the mental competency of a man who allegedly threatened to torture family members with a machete before driving the family pickup truck off the side of a cliff and 500 feet down an embankment – with family members onboard – last summer.

Sean McClelland, 46, of Newhall, appeared Thursday in San Fernando Superior Court where his competency was reviewed.

He was then ordered to continue with a mental assessment for the next six months and return to court Aug. 2 for a “status update” on his continued assessment, Ricardo Santiago of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told The Signal Thursday.

On Jan. 25, McClelland was first ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation and return to court for a “1368 hearing” on Thursday with the findings. “That’s a hearing to get an update on the mental health status of the defendant,” Santiago told The Signal.

McClelland was arrested July 4, 2016, on suspicion of kidnapping and assault after he allegedly threatened to take family members who were allegedly with him at the time into the mountain to torture them.

He then drove a family pickup truck off the side of a cliff – more than 500 feet down an embankment with his father in the truck.

For more than an hour prior to his arrest, McClelland eluded firefighters in the steep hillside brush south of Templin Highway off the northbound lanes of Interstate 5, near the freeway’s upper crossover after the pickup truck he was in crashed, officials said.

McClelland, who was injured, was transported to a hospital via a Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter.

A man, identified as his father, was also injured and taken to the hospital, Lt. Rob Hahnlein of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station told The Signal at the time of McLelland’s arrest.

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