Mental competency of man charged in jogger attack questioned

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The mental health of a man accused of choking a jogger nearly two years ago was called into question again Thursday when he appeared in court.

Colton Ford, 31, described by the deputies who arrested him as a transient who was living in the Santa Clara River wash, is charged with one count of attempted willful, deliberate and premeditated murder

On Thursday morning he appeared in San Fernando Superior Court.

“The hearing was continued to Jan. 8, 2020, in Dept. N of San Fernando Court for a 1368 hearing,” Shiara Davila-Morales, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday.

Section 1368 of the California Penal Code defines such a hearing as an inquiry into the mental competency of a defendant before trial.

Ford’s mental health was questioned in April 2018 and again in November 2018, when other 1368 hearings were ordered.

The alleged attack happened shortly after 8:20 a.m. on Sept. 26, 2017,  when a woman jogging on the bike path in Valencia near the post office on McBean Parkway was attacked.

Ford allegedly grabbed her and began to strangle her until she became unconscious, D.A. spokesman Ricardo Santiago said in a news release issued in 2017.

Paramedics with the Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to the incident, provided medical aid to the woman and took her to the hospital.

Shortly after the arrest, Capt. Robert Lewis of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station provided details about the incident at a City Council meeting.

“Two Good Samaritans who actually came to her rescue, held on to the suspect for deputies,” Lewis told council members at the time.

Lewis, at the time, said the suspect had arrived in the SCV from Orange County in early 2017, and that he had been arrested on four Proposition 47 charges prior.

“This individual is a Prop. 47 individual,” he said. “Eight hours into the investigation, we are now looking at an attempted murder charge.”

Arrest documents show that Ford was arrested in the SCV June 20, 2017, on suspicion of possessing drug paraphernalia.

Prop 47, also called the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, reduced about two dozen nonviolent felonies, such as shoplifting and drug possession to misdemeanors which, typically, carry less jail time, if any jail time at all.

Californians voted in favor of Proposition 47 ballot measure in November 2014.

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