Courts

Future unclear for murder case involving suspect with untreated schizophrenia

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A man charged with the murder of his bunkmate at a room and board in Sacramento’s Meadowview neighborhood insisted that he was guilty following a preliminary hearing last month.

“No, I’m guilty,” John Devan exclaimed, against the advice of his attorney. “Guilty, your honor.”

An attorney for the 49-year-old, Jesse Ortiz, quickly spoke up and entered a not guilty plea for his client. A judge sided with Ortiz, however, left the possibility open for the case to be settled with a plea at a later date.

“At this time, the court is not going to take a not guilty plea from the defendant, but it is in his prerogative, of course,” Judge Steve White said. “What I’m going to do is set this matter for trial. This can be addressed in the home court at a later time if there’s a wish to terminate the case with a plea.”

Devan is charged with murder in the stabbing death of John Adams at a home on 29th Street, where the men lived together, in June of last year.

Bret Kitley of the Sacramento Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit testified at the hearing that two officers responded to a felony assault in progress after Devan himself allegedly called 911, confessing to having just committed a murder.

“I stabbed somebody,” Devan told two officers as they contacted him on the sidewalk.

The officers entered the residence and located Adams on the floor of the kitchen with a gruesome stab wound to his back. He was transported from the scene by the fire department and was determined to have died from blood loss.

After the scene was secured, and Kitley reviewed it following the approval of a search warrant, he interviewed Devan at the Police HQ on Freeport Boulevard.

“He told me that himself and the victim were residents at 7400 29th Street. It’s a room and board,” Kitley recalled. “They had been living there together for about eight months, according to him, and had had a few previous verbal altercations, some disagreements.”

Devan said Adams told him he didn’t think the landlord would allow Devan to continue to live at the home, sparking a verbal altercation in the kitchen which ended in Devan stabbing Adams one time.

Devan said Adams “would not shut up” and “just kept at him” during the two-hour interview. He also revealed to detectives that he receives disability benefits for schizophrenia, a mental illness that blurs the lines between reality and imagination, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Individuals who have the disorder can suffer from hallucinations, disordered thinking, and behavior that can greatly affect their daily lives and require lifelong treatment.

Devan was prescribed several medications to help treat the disorder, according to Officer Kitley, who reviewed his medical records from UC Davis, the California prison system, and Kaiser. Devan told authorities that he refuses to take his medication and said he wasn’t sure whether his decision to kill Adams was right or wrong.

Devan’s lawyer said in court that he wouldn’t be waiving time, and a trial readiness conference was set for July 28th, with trial tentatively set for August the 8th in Department 9.

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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