By Dan Nienaber
---- — MANKATO — A judge has found that a veteran facing a first-degree murder charge for allegedly killing his former girlfriend at her Mankato home needs mental health treatment and testing before a trial can take place.
Blue Earth County District Court Judge Kurt Johnson issued an order Wednesday requiring Levi Spencer Minissale, 24, of Minneapolis, to be transferred from the Blue Earth County Jail to Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter.
Security Hospital staff will provide treatment and testing to help Blue Earth County staff determine if Minissale is mentally ill, mentally deficient or mentally ill and dangerous.
Minissale was arrested June 6 after police found 20-year-old Yesenia "Sunny" Gonzalez dead at her house in the 1400 block of Second Avenue. Her throat had been cut and her husband, Gallo Buccio Ruiz, had been stabbed.
Minissale was interviewed by investigators after he was taken into custody at a nearby convenience store. He allegedly told them he brought a hunting knife into the house when he stopped to visit while traveling home from Sioux Falls, S.D.
After receiving an order to examine Minissale at the jail, Dr. Michael Farnsworth determined that the tests needed couldn't be completed in that setting. His report to Johnson also said he believes Minissale is mentally ill.
Assistant Blue Earth County Attorney Pat McDermott said Minissale's situation is not common. Competency and mental health testing can usually be completed in jail or at another location if a suspect is released on his or her own recognizance or after posting bail.
"In his case, the jail is no place to answer these questions at this point and time," McDermott said.
Johnson's order committing Minissale said Johnson has found that Minissale is grossly disorganized, has experienced hallucinations that resulted in bizarre behaviors and has threatened to harm or kill other inmates and jail staff.
"He has demonstrated ongoing disruptive, aggressive, inappropriate behavior that has been dangerous to himself and others," Johnson said.
The order also says if Minissale is eventually committed as mentally ill and in need of hospitalization, the person in charge of the treatment facility will issue competency reports every six months. Minissale can not be released from a secure mental health facility without a court order. If he is found to be competent, he will be returned to the Blue Earth County Jail.
Another hearing for a status review has been scheduled for April 30, but McDermott said that hearing could be delayed if necessary.