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Fresno County man accused of killing mom was prescribed mental health meds at time of incident

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FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) — Nearly four years to the day since a Fresno County man is said to have killed his mother, accused killer Jose Juan Mata was back in court on Wednesday.

Mata faces a murder charge for the death of Maria Elias.

Elias’ 30-year-old son seemed to focus intently on the witness stand as his defense attorney pressed a former detective on Mata’s whereabouts in May 2020.

“The farthest he went is about 18 or 20 miles around the town, correct?” defense attorney Curtis Sok said. “It’s just a little more than 20 miles, but yes,” retired Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Detective Benjamin Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez’s testimony came as prosecutors made their case to the judge for the second day.

The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office has charged Mata with one count of murder and is now trying to prove that there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Mata has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. He previously said he was not guilty by reason of insanity.

While Mata has undergone at least two mental health evaluations, his attorney focused some of his questioning on Mata’s medication at the time of the crime.

“He told you that he’s taking meds for schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression?” Sok said. “He didn’t mention schizophrenia, but he did say anxiety, depression, and bipolar,” Gonzalez said.

The detective said several times that Mata rambled during his interview with authorities after the deadly incident.

During his cross-examination, the defense attorney asked Gonzalez what Mata’s older brother told investigators.

“But he also told you he’s never seen Jose become violent with Maria, meaning – referring to his mother?” Sok said. “Correct,” Gonzalez said.

Wednesday’s passionate back-and-forth came a day after the judge heard graphic and revealing evidence about how Elias died. On Tuesday, another detective said Elias still had a blade in her chest and a power cord around her neck when a coroner examined her.

Before the judge can decide if there is enough evidence for Mata to go to trial, prosecutors say they plan on calling more witnesses to the stand.

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