BISBEE — A “soft” trial date has been set in the case of an accused killer who authorities say shot his neighbor to death last year in Mescal and who was previously deemed incompetent.
While the date for Jon Melvin Bentley’s trial is set for late August, it’s not expected to be the actual trial date — it was scheduled so that prosecutors can have DNA test results processed more quickly, Assistant County Attorney Dan Akers said Monday at a hearing.
“They (lab officials) won’t prioritize the DNA analysis unless we set a date,” Akers told Cochise County Superior Court Judge Timothy Dickerson.
Bentley is charged with fatally shooting his Mescal neighbor, Otmar Schwestak, on Aug. 21, 2020.
In March, Dickerson ordered Bentley into a restoration program within the Cochise County Jail, after a third doctor said the defendant was “incompetent but restorable.” The second psychiatrist who tested Bentley came away with the same diagnosis. The first doctor said Bentley was “probably competent.”
Akers said Monday that Bentley had recently been diagnosed as competent.
A Cochise County Sheriff’s report shows that Bentley and Schwestak were paranoid about each other.
Otmar Schwestak told his son, Michael Schwestak, that he feared Bentley because of Bentley’s “unstable mental status,” the report shows.
The younger Schwestak found his father slumped over in a chair on Aug. 21 inside the residence the two shared on North Mescal Road. Schwestak had a newspaper tucked under one arm and investigators said there were no signs of struggle in the house.
When he was interviewed by Cochise County sheriff’s detectives, Michael Schwestak initially told them his father had no enemies.
However, he then told them about their neighbor Bentley, who Michael Schwestak described as “(expletive) nuts,” the report says.
Two days after the homicide, Bentley’s son, Jon Michael Bentley, told sheriff’s detectives his father was “extremely paranoid” about the Schwestaks and the elder Bentley had taken his .40 caliber Glock pistol, the report shows. The bullet casing found near Schwestak was a Winchester .40 caliber, the report says.
Jon Michael Bentley also said he had moved his father into a recreational vehicle on his property on North Mescal Road because his father had threatened another neighbor.
The younger Bentley told investigators he suspected his father had shot Schwestak, the report shows.