The mental state of two men accused in recent, separate violent crimes — one allegedly a kidnapping, the other allegedly involving sex crimes against children — is now being assessed following recent court appearances.
The two cases, which are unrelated to each other, unfolded similarly in San Fernando Superior Court on Friday.
Accused of sex crimes
Dante Villanueva Lusica, 70, of Canyon Country, charged with two counts of sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child 10 years old or younger and one count each of continuous sexual abuse and oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child 10 years or younger appeared Friday in San Fernando Superior Court.
Lusica, a former martial arts instructor who also lived in Newhall for a while, was arrested in April 2017 on suspicion of having committed a felony, by deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Metro Detail.
In September, he was ordered to appear back in court for the start of his jury trial, Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told The Signal at the time.
On Friday, however, a mental health hearing scheduled for late last week was re-scheduled for Feb. 15, Paul Eakins, spokesman for the D.A.’s office said Friday.
That section of the state’s criminal code reads: “If counsel informs the court that he or she believes the defendant is or may be mentally incompetent, the court shall order that the question of the defendant’s mental competence is to be determined in a hearing.”
Similarly, a 38-year-old transient accused of trying to “snatch” a 15-year-old girl in Canyon Country last summer, was also ordered to have his mental competency assessed under the same section of the state’s criminal code.
Santos Martinez appeared Friday in San Fernando Superior Court on a charge of kidnapping.
A 1368 PC hearing and trial setting was scheduled for Jan. 5 in his case. A new date for that hearing is still to be set.
Martinez was arrested in June after an alleged incident that happened on the 18300 block of Soledad Canyon Road, near the intersection of Sierra Highway and Soledad Canyon Road.
“A female, 15, was standing in a parking lot when she was approached by a Hispanic male,” Sgt. Michael Konecny of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station told The Signal at the time.
“He tried to strike up a conversation with her, asking her for her name and phone number. Then he asked “Can I kiss you?’ She said, ‘I don’t know you, get away from me.’
“He then grabbed her in a bear hug and dragged her northbound to a parking lot,” Konecny said in June.
He said she then “began screaming for help. She was heard by some bystanders who responded and later directed deputies to where they saw him run.
Deputies found the suspect in an alleyway behind the Boot Barn store.
“The victim was moved a short distance against her will,” according to Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
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