A man accused of abducting a woman after she left a Boston bar three years ago is competent to stand trial, a Suffolk Superior Court judge ruled Monday.
Victor Pena, 42, interrupted and delayed a closed-door mental health hearing with loud outbursts in Spanish that could be heard from outside the courtroom. Jury selection is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Associate Justice Anthony M. Campo’s ruling came after he heard testimony from a doctor who evaluated Pena after a seven-day stay at Bridgewater State Hospital. Campo impounded Dr. John Young’s July 5 report.
The mental health hearing spanned three days. Before the hearing was closed to the media and public, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum told the judge the report reiterated more than sufficient evidence to find Pena is competent to proceed to trial.
Pena has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and 10 counts of aggravated rape. He has been jailed without bail since his arrest in January 2019, when a woman disappeared after leaving Hennessy’s Bar. If convicted, the kidnapping charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison; each rape charge is punishable by up to 30 years.
Pena derailed his last trial in September when he fired his lawyer after jurors were selected and ready to be seated because the lawyer refused to defend the case by saying the victim was a prostitute, which was a baseless claim, according to court filings.
Court records show Pena’s court-appointed lawyer Lorenzo Perez intends to argue a defense of “lack of criminal responsibility because of mental disease or defect.”
“He hopes to have a fair trial,” Perez said outside of court Monday. “He looks forward to it.”
In past interviews with The Boston Globe, Pena’s older brother, Jose Pena, said Pena’s mental capacity was sharply reduced at about 7 years old, when his family found him in his room suffering from a medical problem that had cut off oxygen to his brain.
An intense search began after the woman disappeared after leaving Hennessy’s on Jan. 19, 2019.
Police first saw Pena on surveillance video, following the woman as she walked down Congress Street, and then at times carrying her on Washington Street. He next escorted her onto the MBTA Orange Line and walked her to his apartment in Charlestown.
The woman woke up the next morning with no memory of what had happened, according to prosecutors. There was a deadbolt on the door on the inside that required a key.
When police burst into Pena’s apartment they found the 23-year-old victim sobbing and horrified. Pena stood in the kitchen, ready to fight, according to a police report. Three officers rushed him and wrestled him into handcuffs; four officers swept inside and ushered the victim out.
Pena in January sought his release to receive medical treatment for tumorous growths. But his bid included a “sole medical record, which was ‘self-created,’” Campo wrote in his denial.