Man is found fit to go on trial in attacks that killed 4 in Rockford, Illinois

ROCKFORD, Ill. — (AP) — A man was found fit Thursday to stand trial on charges of killing four people and injuring seven others during a series of frenzied attacks in a neighborhood in Rockford, Illinois.

The judge had ordered a psychiatric evaluation in April for Christian Soto, 22, who is accused of stabbing, beating or driving over the victims in March. He is charged with first-degree murder and other counts.

Winnebago County Judge Debra Schafer said Thursday at Soto's arraignment hearing that she had reviewed a doctor’s finding that he was fit for trial and said she agreed.

Soto’s attorney, Glenn Jazwiec, said his client was waiving a formal reading of the charges and pleading not guilty. Schafer ordered him to remain detained and set a July 24 status hearing for Soto, who appeared in court by video link.

He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder and home invasion with a dangerous weapon. Prosecutors allege he killed Romona Schupbach, 63; Jacob Schupbach, 23; Jay Larson, 49; and Jenna Newcomb, 15, in the March 27 attacks in Rockford, a city of over 140,000 about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Chicago.

Authorities have said they haven’t determined a motive.

Winnebago County prosecutor J. Hanley has said Soto told police he had smoked marijuana with Jacob Schupbach and believed the drugs “were laced with an unknown narcotic” that made him paranoid.

Soto first fatally stabbed Schupbach and his mother, then beat, stabbed and used a truck to run over Larson, who was working as a mail carrier, authorities said. He next wounded three people inside one home and beat Newcomb, her sister and a friend with a baseball bat inside another home, according to authorities. The attacks happened within a matter of minutes.

Soto was arrested as he fled another home where he had stabbed a woman but had been slowed by a driver who stopped to intervene, authorities said.

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