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Murder defendant certified as competent

 | Published on 4/9/2011


A Millbrae murder defendant who recently returned from a state mental hospital will set a trial date at the end of the month but first wants to fire his court-appointed attorney.

A judge Friday certified Teyseer Zaid “Terry” Najdawi, 28, as restored to competency and able to stand trial on murder and gun charges for allegedly shooting his friend in 2008 and leaving the body inside a car parked on a residential Burlingame street. He is also charged with attempted murder for allegedly attacking his cellmate at the Maguire Correctional Facility and felony fraud for allegedly stealing his brother’s credit card for use the night of the murder and while evading police afterward.

He was ordered back to court April 22 to set a trial date but first will ask the court April 15 to replace attorney Jonathan McDougall. The appointment of a new attorney could also push back trial scheduling.

McDougall said he opted not to contest the hospital’s findings at Friday’s hearing because it remains unknown at this point if he’ll remain on the case.

When Najdawi was committed to Napa State Hospital in June, he was not ordered to be forcibly medicated. Staff at the jail are required to tell the court and prosecution if Najdawi stops taking his psychiatric medication while awaiting trial, said prosecutor Al Giannini.

A grand jury indicted Najdawi before committal so he heads straight to a jury rather than a preliminary hearing on evidence prosecutors say prove he killed Jack Chu, 27, who was discovered days after his death not far from the Burlingame home of the defendant’s mother where police later found bloodied clothing.

Chu’s body was found slumped in a car at the intersection of Chula Vista and Sanchez avenues and connected to an early-morning shooting reported July 8, 2008 in Millbrae. Chu reportedly had been in the driver’s seat when shot nearly a dozen times in the head. Authorities assume the shooter pushed Chu’s body aside and drove the car away. Authorities say the men had been drinking together that night but further motive remains unclear.

A week later, police apprehended Najdawi at a Redding motel.

On Sept. 14, 2008, while in custody, Najdawi’s case grew after sheriff’s deputies reported found him beating and strangling his cellmate.

On May 15, 2009, a judge found Najdawi incompetent based on the reports of four court-appointed doctors and sent him to Napa.

Najdawi remains in custody without bail.