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Psychiatrists split on Gregory Elarms' competency

Accused killer of David Lewis acted out in court in February; two psychiatrists arrived at different conclusions regarding his sanity

Two court–appointed psychiatrists have come to different conclusions regarding Gregory Elarms' competency to stand trial for the murder of East Palo Alto community activist David Lewis.

Elarms, 58, a childhood friend of Lewis, is charged with first-degree murder, possession of a firearm and a special circumstance of lying in wait, which could make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Lisa Novak ordered the competency exam after Elarms acted out loudly during a Feb. 18 hearing. His attorney, Jeff Boyarsky, expressed doubt about Elarm's competency to stand trial.

Doctors Kenneth Seeman and Alfred Fricke could not agree on Elarms sanity. The court has appointed a third doctor, Jeffrey Gould, as the tiebreaker doctor, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office. The case was continued to May 25 when Gould's report will be heard.

Lewis was gunned down near his car in the parking lot of the Hillsdale Shopping Center on June 9, 2010. Elarms allegedly followed Lewis to the shopping center from the San Mateo Medical Center, where Lewis was conducting HIV testing and counseling.

Witnesses said a man confronted Lewis in the parking garage and shot him in the back as Lewis walked away. Lewis was transported to Stanford Hospital but died.

The case went unsolved for six months until Elarms contacted San Mateo police with a tip that turned into statements allegedly implicating himself in the crime, according to police. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in January.

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