An Orange County man charged with murdering his roommate and sexually assaulting her body has been ruled competent to stand trial after a judge ordered Bryan Santana to undergo a mental evaluation following his bizarre behavior in court Tuesday.
Judge Renee Roche said just before the trial was set to begin Tuesday, Santana took a swing at a corrections officer and used his own feces to make a mess in his holding cell.
"He has now soiled himself and smeared himself in feces, and smeared the wall in feces, and has written something on the wall in his feces," Roche said Tuesday.
After the judge ordered a mental examination, a doctor told the judge Wednesday morning that Santana was competent. Dr. Jacquelyn Olander said she believed Santana was malingering — that is, faking mental illness to escape the responsibility of trial — by trying to exhibit a multiple personality disorder.
According to Dr. Olander, Santana invented a second personality, called "Michael," whom he allegedly said was a "bad person" who likes causing pain and killing animals. The doctor said Santana would constantly go back-and-forth between the two personalities.
But Olander explained someone who had a true dissociative identity disorder would have a distinct, separate sense of self, which she said Santana did not demonstrate.
Judge Roche found the doctor's testimony credible, and ordered Santana's trial to begin with opening statements Wednesday.
The judge added Santana would be shackled during the trial. If Santana causes any disruption, a Special Response Team officer will issue a warning, and then electrically shock Santana. The judge said the shock would be "painful and debilitating" in the presence of the jury.
Santana is facing a first-degree murder charge, accused of killing his roommate Shelby Fazio in October 2014, and defiling her dead body. Investigators said Santana told them he choked and stabbed Fazio, 23, and then had sex with her body.
He is also charged with killing her dog and attempting to kill his other roommate, John Heermance.
Trial gets underway
In opening statements, the defense told the jury that Santana has psychological issues. “We failed him. We failed to reach out to him, to save him, to cure him. As what the facts are going to show is Mr. Santana needed help,” said Javier Chavez, Santana’s defense attorney.
That argument may not hold up against the prosecution, since the doctor’s mental evaluation deemed him competent.
“He has planned everything. This was absolutely, unequivocally, premeditated first degree murder. He talks about removing the light bulbs in the living room. Just in case one of them tried to turn the light switch on and neighbors saw them struggle,” said Mark Interlicchio, assistant state attorney.
Santana sat motionless next to his attorneys as law enforcement officials and one of his victims took the stand.
Heermance said he came home from work and saw Santana washing his hands. He went to knock on Fazio's door because she wasn't answering her phone, but upon glancing into Santana's room, Heermance saw a large amount of blood on the floor. That's when he said Santana attacked.
"He came at me, pepper sprayed me, Heermance said. "I tried to knock the knife out of his hand and was successful in doing that."
Heermance was able to get away and call 911. Law enforcement responded and found Fazio's body.
Crime scene investigators said it was a bloody massacre. Two messages were written on the walls in blood. One was an apology to his family, while the other said he was not sorry for what he did.
Hours later, Orlando police located Santana at a barbershop.
"He said 'you got me. I killed my roommate,'" testified Officer David Evangelista.
Fazio's family and friends sat in the courtroom during Wednesday's testimony. Some could not stay in the room or continue to look at the evidence.
Investigators also revealed Google searches were found on Santana's computer, which may prove the murder was premeditated.
More witnesses will be called Thursday. The case could wrap up by the end of the week.