Michael Zarate, the Brownwood man accused of murder in the Nov. 2, 2014 shooting death of Ernesto Gonzales Jr., has been found incompetent to stand trial and ordered confined to a state mental hospital pending treatment and further evaluation.
    District Judge Steve Ellis signed an incompetency judgement on March 16 after reviewing a report by Dr. Harold Scott, a court-appointed psychiatrist who evaluated the 32-year-old Zarate, records in Brown County District Clerk Cheryl Jones’ office state.
    Ellis reviewed Scott’s psychiatric diagnostic evaluation along with a psychiatric evaluation for an insanity defense and competency evaluation. Ellis’ ruling states:
    • Zarate is incompetent to stand trial.
    • There is a “substantial probability” Zarate will attain competency to stand trial in the foreseeable future.
    • Zarate is mentally ill and mentally incompetent.
    • Zarate is ordered confined to the North Texas State Hospital in Vernon for a maximum of 120 days “for further examination and treatment toward the specific objective of attaining competency to stand trial.”
    • The facility is not notify Ellis 14 days before the commitment order expires whether Zarate has attained competency or will not attain competency in the foreseeable future.
    • Charges against Zarate remain pending.
     Gonzales, 34, was shot in an alley in the 1300 block of Brady Avenue in Brownwood, police said earlier.
    Zarate was already in jail after a deputy arrested him on bond withdrawal warrants for aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child, when police served him with additional warrants for murder and evidence tampering, authorities have said.
    The day of the shooting, police were called at 4:13 p.m. to the 1300 block of Brady Avenue in reference to a man who had been shot, according to a complaint filed in Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Jim Cavanaugh’s office. Officers located Gonzales lying dead in the alley.
Witnesses told police Zarate and Gonzales had a "verbal altercation" before the shooting and that Zarate chased Gonzales, the complaint states.
A witness heard a gunshot, heard a woman screaming "stop, Michael, stop," and heard two more gunshots. The witness saw Gonzales stagger into the alley, followed by a male.
A second witness heard a gunshot, followed by a woman's screams and two more shots. That witness also saw Gonzales enter the alley, followed by a male carrying something in his hand.
Zarate remained in the Brown County Jail as of late Thursday afternoon, jail records state.