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Menlo Park: Attempted murder suspect to undergo mental competency review

Man allegedly struck woman with stolen vehicle in Nealon Park

The man charged with attempted murder, among other felonies, after allegedly striking a pedestrian with a stolen vehicle on June 7 at Nealon Park in Menlo Park finally appeared in court on June 14 after refusing to attend two prior arraignment hearings that had been scheduled.

Maurice Kalhil Vasquez Lopez, 34, of Redwood City refused to appear in court on Wednesday and Thursday, June 12 and 13. When he appeared in court on Friday, he was angry, disrespectful and rude to the judge, according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

The court referred him to the private defender program, and the private defender expressed doubt as to his mental competence to stand trial. The judge then suspended the proceedings so that two doctors can be appointed to interview him and evaluate his mental competence. Those doctors are expected to be appointed next Tuesday, Wagstaffe said.

On June 7 at around 10:30 p.m., Vasquez Lopez was in a parked car at Nealon Park when he got into a verbal altercation with a resident, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office. Vasquez Lopez reportedly threw beer bottles at a group having a barbecue nearby.

Two people approached Vasquez Lopez and told him that the police had been called, according to the DA's Office. Just before police arrived, Vasquez Lopez started to drive away and appeared to intentionally strike a woman who had been filming the altercation, the DA's Office said, adding that the other person had to run away to avoid being hit by the vehicle.

The woman sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries to her head, hip and leg, according to the Menlo Park Police Department.

As he fled the scene, Vasquez Lopez rammed into a Menlo Park police car, immobilizing his vehicle, according to police.

Vasquez Lopez was then taken into custody, and police determined that he had been driving a stolen vehicle. They also suspected that he had been driving under the influence of alcohol.

No police officers were injured during the incident.

Vasquez Lopez faces nine felony charges, some with enhancements, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, assault upon a peace officer, driving under the influence, attempting to avoid police capture, leaving the scene, and driving a stolen car. He remains in custody on $10 million bail.

Police are asking anyone with more information about the incident to contact the department at 650-330-6300.

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