Competency ruling in murder case expected Friday

By Joe Gorman


Judge Maureen A. Sweeney said she expects to decide by Friday if one of three men accused of a shooting death on the East Side last year is competent to stand trial.

The judge made her remarks after a hearing Wednesday that lasted more than an hour in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for Fred Nolasco, 24, who is charged with aggravated murder in the July shooting death of Marion Bugdal, 52.

Judge Sweeney had ordered a competency evaluation for Nolasco that was completed in September by Dr. Jessica Hart of the Forensic Psychiatric Center of Northeast Ohio.

Hart said she spoke to Nolasco twice at the Mahoning County jail, the first time without an interpreter. She said she spoke to him a second time with an interpreter just to make sure she understood Nolasco, who speaks Spanish, the first time. She said there were no significant changes to her observations in the second interview.

Hart had deemed Nolasco competent to stand trial, saying he has an “adequate understanding” of court personnel, and he could communicate with his attorneys, although she conceded under cross-examination by defense attorney Michael Kivlighan that Nolasco was not fully aware of all court functions but he could learn them.

Kivlighan requested a second evaluation, and the person who did that evaluation, Dr. John Fabian of Cleveland, testified by video link that Nolasco has a fifth-grade comprehension level, and he has a “mild to moderate intellectual disability.”

Fabian said Nolasco is incompetent to stand trial and that he does not understand why he is in jail.

“He was not able to put things consistently together,” Fabian said.

A third evaluation was then requested by prosecutors, and the person who prepared that evaluation, Dr. Sylvia Obradovich of Akron, also said Nolasco is incompetent to stand trial. She went further by stating she does not believe his competency can ever be restored.

“The disability is permanent,” Obradovich said.

Nolasco and two other men, Alex New, 21 and Johnnathen Figueroa, 20, are also charged with aggravated murder in Bugdal’s death.

Bugdal had been complaining for days before he was killed that the three were harassing him, and he was found in the burned-out remains of his Bennington Avenue home several days after he had been shot to death.

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