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Man charged in Las Vegas model’s death to undergo competency evaluation

Updated September 29, 2020 - 1:29 pm

A man facing murder charges in the slaying of a 24-year-old Las Vegas model will undergo a competency evaluation before his trial set for next year, a judge decided Tuesday.

Lawyers for Christopher Prestipino, 46, wrote in court papers that he reported “hearing voices” while locked down and in quarantine at the Clark County Detention Center during the pandemic.

Along with murder, he faces kidnapping and conspiracy charges in the death of Esmeralda Gonzalez, who was found dead in the desert north of the Las Vegas Valley.

At a brief court hearing before District Judge Michelle Leavitt on Tuesday, prosecutors did not object to having Prestipino’s competency checked.

That means two doctors are expected to evaluate him and present separate findings to another judge. Should he be found incompetent, Prestipino would be sent to a maximum security psychiatric facility until doctors deem him fit to stand trial.

While under quarantine, Prestipino was able to contact his mother and attorneys by phone, his lawyers Bill Terry and Alexandra Athmann-Marcoux said.

They wrote that he “indicated he was hearing voices and could not remember normal situations.”

The lawyers added that Prestipino “appears to understand the nature of the proceedings but that his memory of events has diminished.”

In court documents, prosecutors have alleged that Prestipino and his roommate Casandra Garrett, 40, killed Gonzalez “with a poisonous substance and/or by strangulation.” Garrett’s trial is set for November.

Prestipino’s girlfriend, Lisa Mort, also faces a charge of harboring, concealing or aiding a felon in connection with the killing.

Gonzalez, who worked in the adult entertainment industry and had more than 300,000 followers on Instagram, lived about one-tenth of a mile from Prestipino.

Her Facebook profile indicated that she was from Michoacan, Mexico, and had studied at UNLV.

Prosecutors have written in court papers that Prestipino took extensive measures to hide Gonzalez’s body after he strangled her and injected her with pool cleaner.

Gonzalez was last seen alive in the pre-dawn hours of May 31, when she was captured on residential surveillance video trying to open the door to a home on the 9000 block of West Torino Avenue, less than two-tenths of a mile from Prestipino’s home.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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