Lawyer: Mesan too mentally ill for rape trial - East Valley Tribune: News

Lawyer: Mesan too mentally ill for rape trial

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Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 11:35 pm | Updated: 10:20 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A Mesa man suspected of raping an 93-year-old woman inside her home in March wants a judge to determine he is too mentally ill to stand trial.

Peter Cupis Jr., 28, plans to ask a Maricopa County Superior Court judge today to hold a hearing to decide whether his mental illness could prevent him from getting a fair trial.

Since his arrest March 20, Cupis has had conversations in which he didn’t understand what was happening or why he was there, his lawyer said in court documents filed last month.

In one instance, “Cupis seemed disoriented, did not know what a lawyer is and did not understand why he was in jail,” wrote his lawyer, public defender L. Kirk Nurmi.

His ability to even understand his own case “is in serious doubt,” Nurmi wrote.

Known to his family as “Junior,” Cupis previously dealt with depression, his mother, Nellie Lopez, said shortly after her son’s arrest. At the time, Mesa police also reported he had a history of mental illness.

Court documents did not say whether Cupis was diagnosed with any other forms of mental illness, and his lawyer did not return a call for comment.

Cupis is suspected of breaking into a woman’s home near University and Country Club drives in Mesa and raping her multiple times.

Police and the woman’s family responded when she was able to reach her medical alert bracelet and call for help.

The woman’s son and daughter-in-law were the first to arrive and found Cupis still in the house, court records show. They held him until police arrived.

Records also show he may have been drunk or on drugs when he was arrested.

Cupis denied attacking the woman when he was interviewed by police, saying in fact he had found her injured outside and helped her into her home.

Cupis, who previously spent time in prison for burglary and violating the terms of his parole, has since pleaded not guilty to the rape.

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