Fresno County man charged with killing mother was using prescribed mental health medication at the time of the incident

On Wednesday, Fresno County man Jose Juan Mata was brought before the court to face a murder charge for the death of his mother, Maria Elias. The defense attorney for Mata questioned a retired Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Detective Benjamin Gonzalez about Mata’s whereabouts in May 2020, focusing on the distance he had traveled from town.

The prosecutors presented evidence to the judge for a second day, attempting to prove that there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial. Despite pleading not guilty to the murder charge and previously stating that he was not guilty by reason of insanity, Mata’s defense attorney continued to question the detective about Mata’s medication at the time of the crime. The detective mentioned that Mata had mentioned anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder but did not specifically mention schizophrenia.

During cross-examination, the defense attorney focused on what Mata’s older brother had told investigators about his behavior. The previous day, the judge heard graphic evidence about Elias’s death, including details of her coroner’s examination such as still having a blade in her chest and a power cord around her neck. Prosecutors have plans to call more witnesses before deciding if there is enough evidence for Mata to stand trial.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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