King Yates

King Yates, who is accused of killing his wife in 2016, will undergo a third competency hearing in October. Yates objected to the evaluation, since he was found competent to stand trial in May.

His appointed attorney, Bobbi Berry, is at right.

A Tucson man accused of killing his wife as well as his jail cellmate will be undergoing a contested competency hearing in October.

King Yates, 25, was arrested in connection with the shooting death of his wife, Cassandra Yates, in November 2016. Five months later, while jailed on charges related to that killing, Yates was accused in the asphyxiation and beating death of his Pima County jail cellmate, Branden Roth.

As Yates’ cases played out in Pima County Superior Court over the next 18 months, he fired two attorneys and exhibited erratic behavior while acting as his own attorney.

Last July, Pima County Superior Court Judge Howard Fell ordered Yates undergo a competency exam to determine if he was competent to represent himself or even to stand trial.

In November, Yates was ruled incompetent on both fronts. He was ordered to participate in the jail’s Restoration to Competency program, which he had successfully gone through in a previous case. Fell appointed Tucson attorney Bobbi Berry to take over Yates’ defense and later serve as advisory counsel, should he be found competent to represent himself at a later date.

During a hearing in January, it was revealed that Yates agreed to take medication recommended by the doctor who oversees the program, but after taking one dose refused all subsequent administrations. In February, Fell ordered that Yates be forcibly medicated, since jail doctors said he would not be successful in the program without medication.

In May, doctors with the jail sent a report to the court saying Yates had been found competent and was ready to proceed without medication. Attorneys for the state and Yates expressed concern, saying that other doctors said Yates was medication-dependent, asking for additional evaluation.

On Monday, Fell scheduled a contested competency hearing for Oct. 14, asking Yates to cooperate with the new doctor in order to help facilitate the process. Yates had previously indicated to Berry that he would likely not be participating in the evaluation, which is scheduled for August 2.

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Yates, who is not representing himself, objected to the evaluation, saying that his understanding was that the doctor who said he was competent would be the last person evaluating him.

“Everyone is on track and ready to go. The only one contesting the findings is Ms. Bobby,” Yates told Fell, adding that Berry had provided ineffective counsel. In a previous hearing, Yates said that he wants to resume representing himself in the case.

Fell told Yates that he also needed more information before making a ruling, saying that he wanted to make sure Yates’ constitutional rights are protected, as well as the victim’s rights.

Contact reporter Caitlin Schmidt at or 573-4191. Twitter: @caitlincschmidt

Caitlin is a watchdog reporter covering local government, the University of Arizona and sports investigations. She graduated from the UA's journalism school in 2014 and has won a dozen state awards for investigative and public records-based reporting.