People v. CowartAnnotate this Case
Cowart, age 68, was charged with failing to stop at the scene and report an injury accident and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. By stipulation, the court found him incompetent. According to a neuropsychological evaluation, he suffered from vascular dementia and was not expected to regain competency. The parties disputed whether Cowart had to be confined to a medical facility before receiving outpatient medical treatment. Their dispute centered on whether he was charged with a “felony involving death” under Penal Code 1601(a). The court ordered him confined for a 90-day evaluation period and remanded him to jail. Cowart brought a “Writ of Prohibition and/or Mandate.” The court held a hearing and released him with conditions that he not drive any vehicle, that he take prescribed medication, and that he continue in-house Veteran’s Administration care. The court stated: “I do believe, based on the felony that’s charged … that 1601 of the Penal Code does apply … I believe it was a felony that resulted in death, at the direct hand of the defendant.” The court of appeal reversed, noting that there was no allegation or evidence that the victim’s death resulted from Cowart’s flight from the accident scene, so he was not charged with a felony involving death.