Suspect in downtown Orlando shooting spree ruled competent to stand trial



ORLANDO, Fla. - A man accused in a downtown Orlando shooting spree in November 2009 has been ruled competent to stand trial.

The trial for Jason Rodriguez is set to begin Nov 4. Rodriguez is accused of killing Otis Beckford and wounding five others at his former office in the Gateway Center building.

In court on Monday, Rodriguez was trying to convince Chief Judge Belvin Perry that he was incapable of participating in his own defense.

It had been ruled Rodriguez was incompetent to stand trial in the past, but doctors recently determined Rodriguez is fit to stand trial.

Rodriguez remembered minute details about what he did the day before the shooting and afterward, but he says he does not remember the shootings.

Rodriguez said in court on Monday that he has selective memory, but he said if he did in fact, open fire that day, he knows it would have been wrong.

Rodriguez's lawyers said his client is sedated by his anti-psychotic medications and can't stay awake and concentrate in court.

Rodriguez was fidgety and alert Monday and said on the witness stand that there might be another reason that he usually sleeps 13-17 hours a day.

"There's nothing to do, so I just sleep," Rodriguez said.

Two defense experts told the judge Monday Rodriguez is now actively psychotic -- he said he hears voices and says he's being "gang-stalked."

He said his concentration is affected by the voice of someone he calls "Sharptooth" who is always threatening him, and the sleepiness caused by his anti-psychotic meds.

However, he held his own against the state's questioning.

Rodriguez seemed to know which questions to dodge when he was being cross-examined by prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick.

"You didn't remember getting off the elevator?" asked Burdick.

"Yes," Rodriguez said.

"You don't remember that today?" Burdick asked.

"No, because I was psychotic," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez seemed lucid and capable of handling himself in court, despite defense arguments.

"This trial here is for competency. It's not for what happened on the events of Nov. 6," Rodriguez said.

Following the shooting, Rodriguez told WFTV that he was angry that RS&H Engineering fired him and went on to say the company left him to rot.

He said he blamed RS&H for cutting off his unemployment checks after firing him, and that's why he went there with his loaded gun.

Orlando police said he changed clothes after the shooting at his former downtown engineering office.

At the end of the day, chief judge Perry agreed with the state's take on Rodriguez's mental health.

"Mr. Rodriguez has maintained stability for the last 15 months," Burdick said.

Rodriguez also said he knew that day that it would be wrong to shoot people.

That hurts his insanity defense, which hinges on that issue., according to WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer.

Sheaffer says it would be risky for Rodriguez to testify at trial.

"We only saw a faint cross-examination. You didn't see the knockout cross-examination that will come before a jury," Sheaffer said.

Rodriguez is the only one who can decide whether he'll take the stand.