California high court upholds death penalty for man who killed boy

June 24 (UPI) — The Supreme Court of California ruled on Friday to affirm a death penalty verdict for a California man who killed and dismembered a 12-year-old boy 20 years ago.

John Samuel Ghobrial, 48, was sentenced to death in 2002 for killing Juan Delgado in 1998. Ghobrial’s attorneys have argued he is mentally disturbed and was never allowed a mental competency hearing before trial.

According to OC Weekly, Ghobrial was beaten and chained as a kid in Egypt before he fled to the United States. His mental decline continued in California, where he was known to defecate on rooftops, mutilate himself, tear out his toenails, cover his face in butter and coffee, and he heard imaginary voices that urged him to commit violent acts, his attorneys say.

The Supreme Court didn’t accept the argument.

“Although the defense counsel’s penalty phase mitigation evidence showed that the defendant suffered from serious mental illness, we conclude that the mitigating evidence did not constitute substantial evidence of present incompetence that required the trial court, on its own motion, to declare doubt and conduct a competence hearing,” the court wrote.

In 1998, Ghobrial, a trained butcher, kidnapped Delgado, severed his body and scattered some body parts around Orange County and put others in concrete bins. The victim’s genitalia was never found.

California has one of the largest death row populations in the United States, but hasn’t carried out an execution since 2006.