A 53-year-old man who fatally beat another man with a baseball bat in Thermal was found today to have been legally insane at the time of the murder.
After more than a week of deliberations at the Banning Justice Center, jurors found Saul Mayoral legally insane at the time of the March 23, 2018, killing of a man identified by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office
as Hector Quinones.
Mayoral had pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to the murder charge, and although he was found guilty of committing the act in early November, he will be placed in either a state mental institution or an outpatient facility rather than prison, according to Riverside County District Attorney's Office PIO John Hall.
He is scheduled to appear at the Banning Justice Center on Monday to determine where he will be placed. Mayoral's attorney, Alex Hallowell, claimed that evidence provided in the case shows an altercation occurred between the Mayoral and the victim, but little is known about what actually happened during the confrontation. Mayoral contended he was acting in self-defense when Quinones came after him with a pipe.
Hallowell claimed that Mayoral's psychosis altered his reality, and because of that, his client could have truly believed he was defending himself from Quinones.
"He was seeing things that made him believe this was self-defense. He was mistaken, but he thought it was self-defense," Hallowell said.
Deputy District Attorney Robert Hightower told jurors that what occurred was a "clear, brutal, targeted attack." Hightower dismissed the claim of self-defense by stating that Mayoral went out of his way to retrieve the bat beforehand and struck Quinones multiple times in the head while the victim was on the ground.
Hightower also noted that the defendant discarded his phone after the killing, indicating he was aware of his actions and of the gravity of them. It was only after failing to hide what he did that Mayoral began to look for
"any excuse to avoid responsibility," such as claiming self-defense and insanity, according to Hightower.
A local resident discovered Quinones' body in a drainage channel near Mayoral's mobile home at 7:17 a.m. on March 23,2018, in the 87800 block of Avenue 52 and flagged down deputies, according to Sgt. Wallace Clear of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. A bat and a pipe were found at the scene. Mayoral approached authorities later that day with what appeared to be blood on him. When questioned, he admitted to striking Quinones with the bat but claimed it was in self-defense, saying the victim came at him with a pipe, officials said.
Prosecutors said Mayoral admitted what he did was "a mistake."
At the time of his arrest, Mayoral was on probation for battery committed against a custodial officer, according to court records.