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Carjacking suspect not competent to face charges in state court, judge says

Updated September 30, 2022 - 12:34 pm

A Las Vegas judge on Friday found a carjacking suspect not competent to face charges in connection with a 47-mile police chase that ended in a shootout with officers.

Justin Venegas, 40, has been charged with six counts of attempted murder and charges of battery, robbery, attempted robbery, disobeying a police officer, discharging a gun into an occupied structure and destruction of property. During a court hearing on Friday, District Judge Christy Craig said Venegas is not competent to face the charges in state court, according to a mental health evaluation.

Craig said she would have ordered Venegas to be hospitalized at a psychiatric facility, but he is currently in federal custody. He did not appear in court on Friday.

A federal grand jury indicted Venegas last week on two counts of carjacking and several weapons charges.

It is unclear if Venegas will undergo a mental health evaluation for federal court. Raquel Lazo, his federal public defender, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Venegas has been accused of carjacking two people on Aug. 11, according to the federal indictment. He’s also alleged to have shot and injured one of the victims, using a handgun with an obliterated serial number.

The defendant also is accused of firing at two officers in a patrol car during the chase before slamming a vehicle he had carjacked into a police car at 67 mph.

Venegas is scheduled to appear in federal court again on Nov. 8.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.