Joseph Bova, the inscrutable and unnerving suspect accused of murdering Zuheily Roman Rosado in an execution-style shooting at the Mobil Mart in February 2013, will not stand trial. At least not now.
After several conflicting medical evaluations, Flagler County Circuit Judge J. David Walsh at a competency hearing on Wednesday found Bova incompetent to stand trail. The judge “did say that the defendant met the criteria for involuntary hospitalization, so he will be transported to a state hospital to restore competency,” Spencer Hathaway, a spokesman for the State Attorney’s office, said late this afternoon.
Bova was at the hearing. In previous appearances, Bova, 32, lashed out at the court, his captors and his attorneys (he’s had at least two, with Ray Warren as his main attorney) and the Sheriff’s Office. He’s accused deputies of framing him, had at one point refused to see doctors, had had medical issues in jail that could not be disclosed because of privacy laws, and has attempted to remove his own defense attorney from representing him–moves the judge disallowed.
The judge’s decision today only adds to the mystery behind Rosado’s killing, since a trial with the potential of disclosing some motive will not take place. An eventual trial is not impossible: should Bova be found competent at one point, he may well be brought back before the court, Hathaway said.
But that’s not likely any time soon.
The previous story is below.
In a Startling Court Appearance, Mobil Mart Accused Murderer Bova Lashes Out at His Attorney, Judge and Police
Feb. 4, 2014–“I was framed for a murder. There are people’s lives at risk and you don’t care,” Joseph Bova II told Circuit Judge J. David Walsh in a court appearance this afternoon, ending a nearly 10-minute exchange with the judge that got testy on both sides as Bova, speaking clearly but adamantly, criticized the judge, the accusations against him, and his court-appointed lawyer. He was then whisked out by two bailiffs.
Bova, speaking publicly–at least in a courtroom–for the first time since his arrest, now says he’s been framed, that the police should hear his side, that his mental competence should not be an issue, and that the charge against him should be dismissed.
It was as startling an appearance as his previous pre-trial hearing had been puzzling, though this latest development may not be a surprise: authorities, including his lawyer, have been at a loss to understand Bova since his arrest. That underscored the judge’s insistence that he be mentally evaluated–an order Bova has continued to resist.
Bova is accused of first-degree murder in the killing of Zuheily Roman Rosado, 32, on Feb. 21. Rosado was murdered in an execution-style shooting as she worked the evening shift at the Mobil Mart gas and convenience store on State Road 100 in Palm Coast. The shooting was recorded on a surveillance camera. It shows a man of slim build, his head covered with a shirt, walk into the store, immediately turn to his right in Rosado’s direction–she was behind the counter–and fire a gun deliberately at her. He then briskly walks out.
A man matching the individual’s description–same build, same clothes and shoes–was caught on the same surveillance camera three hours earlier, as that man walked in and went to his left, to the store’s ATM, to retrieve money. Investigators traced the ATM transaction to Bova. Bova’s vehicle was also seen on a different surveillance camera, outside. An anonymous tip led detectives to make the connection between Bova’s appearance at the store in the 7 o’clock hour, to retrieve money, and his–alleged–appearance again in the 10 o’clock hour, when the shooting took place.
Bova was arrested in Boca Raton on Sept. 10 in a joint operation by Flagler County Sheriff’s detectives and the Boca Raton Police Department. Bova was living out of his car, a silver 2007 Audi, which was searched. Bova’s SKKY 9mm CPX-1 handgun was found and seized. The Sheriff’s Office determined that it was the gun used in the Rosado murder. Bova conceded to authorities that the gun was his, and that it had never left his possession since he’d bought it from Buck’s Gun Rack in Daytona Beach on June 22, 2012.
Bova is being held at the Flagler County jail on the first-degree murder charge, without bond. He pleaded not guilty to the charge. He appeared in court once before, on Dec. 3. That appearance left both Judge J. David Walsh and Bova’s defense attorney, Ray Warren, puzzled at Bova’s behavior: Warren described how Bova had repeatedly declined to meet with a physician in jail, even though the psychological evaluation may have worked in Bova’s favor. Warren tried three times to have Bova sign a medical release. Bova refused three times.
Bova was also the subject of a medical intervention at the jail on Thanksgiving Day. Because of medical-privacy laws, even his attorney could not clearly find out what had happened–only that something had required a medical response.
“Can I say something?” Bova said, almost immediately after he was brought before the judge, alongside an attorney standing in for Ray Warren, who was going through jury selection in a case in St. Augustine today. Bova was told to wait before speaking, as the judge, the defense and the prosecution spoke. The judge wanted to clear up the matter of Bova’s mental competence to move forward in the case.
“The record reflects there was indeed a suggestion of incompetence entered by the defense,” Walsh said.
Bova interrupted again, and explained why, on previous occasions, he’d declined to see a doctor.
“I wasn’t feeling good,” Bova said, “and I told the doctor that I wasn’t feeling well, and I wasn’t used to being in jail, and he said he’d come back, and he never came back.”
Bova then, in the first of several even-tempered but forceful tirades against his lawyer, criticized Warren, saying he was not his attorney, and he didn’t want him to be his attorney, though it wasn’t clear whether Bova was saying this against Warren specifically, or against any attempt by the court to appoint an attorney. Warren is his second attorney.
“I’ve been framed for this murder, and I have substantial evidence that I have been framed,” Bova said, saying the way he was arrested did not follow protocol. He asked for 10 minutes in private with the judge.
“I can’t speak with you privately, that’s not allowed,” Walsh said.
“Can we speak here then?” Bova asked.
Walsh did not give a yes-or-no answer so much as divert the inquiry back to the medical issue. Bova would not let him.
“Can we go back to representing myself?” Bova asked, again interrupting.
“Not today,” Walsh said, his patience remarkably sustained. Walsh explained to Bova that the matters he was raising should be discussed with his lawyer, not with the judge.
“I have a very big problem with him even coming near me,” Bova said of Warren. “I feel that with a 10-minute conversation the police would be able to find how I was framed and all this case would be dismissed,” he said, raising allegations of tampering and fraud with his case. He added that “there are people’s lives at risk” because the police wasn’t listening to his side, while the alleged killer was still at large.
But this pre-trial hearing was about one thing, and Walsh wanted to stick to it. The judge ordered another medical examination, and since Bova had explained earlier that he’d only declined to see a doctor because he wasn’t feeling well, now he could. Bova wondered why. Because, Walsh repeated, an issue of mental competence was raised and must be dealt with.
Bova would not let go of his fixation: “Warren does not come back here under any circumstance,” Bova said.
“He’s entitled to be here because he’s your appointed attorney,” Walsh said.
Bova tried to speak again. “I’m done with you Mr. Bova,” Walsh said, cutting him off politely but firmly.
“Sir, can I refuse to meet with the doctors?”
No, you can’t, the judge said.
Bova again asked various questions about the case.
“I’m not the one you ask questions to, I’m the one who asks questions of you,” Walsh said, getting impatient with Bova’s continuous interruptions.
Walsh set March 25 at 11 a.m. as the next pre-trial hearing, to hear the results of the medical evaluation.
“You need to talk to the doctors so they in turn can make a proper report so I can talk to you,” Walsh said.
Bova asked how he could have the case dismissed. “I’m very close to being a certified public accountant,” he said.
Again, the judge said this was not the time to raise those questions.
It was then that Bova accused the judge of not caring.