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Cathedral City Man Not Competent To Stand Trial For Murder

A psychologist determined that a Cathedral City man accused in the ambush shooting death of a drug dealer in Desert Hot Springs is not mentally fit to stand trial, prompting a prosecutor today to ask for a second doctor’s opinion.

Curtis Lee Drake, 20, faces charges of first-degree murder, burglary and attempted robbery in the Feb. 23, 2009, death of Samuel Raye Cotton at his home on Calle Azteca.

Drake could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if a jury convicts him of those charges, and also finds true special circumstance allegations that the murder was committed during a robbery and burglary.

His siblings, 23-year-old Latoya Jenkins and 28-year-old Lavenski Harrell, were convicted of Cotton’s murder last month. They face life in prison without parole when they are sentenced Sept. 17.

Deputy Public Defender Tom Steelman declared in May that he had doubt about Drake’s mental competence, prompting Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jorge Hernandez to suspend criminal proceedings.

The judge appointed psychologist Michael Leitman to examine Drake, and he found the defendant incompetent to stand trial.

At a hearing today, Deputy District Attorney Manny Bustamante asked the judge for an opinion of a second psychologist to determine if Drake is mentally fit.

Hernandez appointed Rancho Mirage-based psychologist William Jones to examine Drake and return a report by Sept. 28.

According to the prosecution, Jenkins went to the front door of Cotton’s home and told his sister-in-law, Selassie Monique Winfrey, that she wanted to buy a “small amount of marijuana, a dime bag,” Bustamante said.

Winfrey let Jenkins in and went into the kitchen, where a short time later Harrell and Drake, who were armed, barged in, Bustamante said. During a scuffle, Cotton was shot in the back, he said.

Winfrey called police, but Cotton died in his kitchen.

KESQ News Team


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