Sierra Wave Media

Eastern Sierra News for [current_date format=’F d, Y’]



By Deb Murphy

Ray Bencoma has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity to felony charges including assault on an officer. His trial date has been set for April 10 in Independence, according to an e-mail from Inyo County District Attorney Tom Hardy.

According to Hardy, Bencoma will first be tried on the specific charges. “If the jury finds…that the defendant is guilty of any of the charges, it (the jury) will then be presented with evidence regarding his sanity.” He goes on to state the plea “places the burden of proof on the defendant to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he was ‘incapable of knowing or understanding the nature and quality of his…act and of distinguishing right from wrong at the time of the commission of the offense.’””

The defendant has already been found competent to stand trial. The distinction, according to Hardy: competency to stand trial is based on “whether a defendant understands the nature of the charges…, the nature of the legal proceedings and whether he can cooperate with his attorney in preparing a defense.”

In addition to the assault on an officer charge, Bencoma was arraigned in late September on a felon possession of a firearm and ammunition, possession of stolen property and corporal injury to a significant other.

The charges stem from an incident in the early morning of August 26, 2016 when an Inyo County Sheriff’s deputy was flagged down by a female alleging she was the victim of domestic violence.

The Sheriff’s Department report stated Bencoma “appeared from behind an out-building and pointed a semi-automatic weapon at the” deputy. The deputy fired, hitting Bencoma. He was transported to Northern Inyo Hospital, then transferred to a hospital in Reno, Nev….