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Man found competent to face charges in stabbing death at hospital

A man accused of fatally stabbing another patient at University Medical Center has been found competent to face felony charges.

Michael Earl, 48, faces charges of murder, attempted murder, assault, battery and burglary in connection with the June attack at University Medical Center. Porfirio Rea, 29, was killed, and another man was injured.

The Metropolitan Police Department has said the men were in an area of the hospital where psychiatric patients are treated, and that Rea was restrained on a gurney when he was stabbed.

During a court hearing on Friday, District Judge Christy Craig said Earl had been found competent following a mental health evaluation.

“There is no challenge, judge,” said defense attorney James Ruggeroli, who appeared in court through a video call on Friday.

Ruggeroli also said his client goes by “Michael Williams,” although he is identified in court documents and jail records as “Michael Earl.”

According to an arrest report, Earl told police he had recently moved back to Las Vegas from Montana and was hospitalized at University Medical Center hours before the stabbing. A physician wrote in hospital paperwork that Earl was suicidal and hearing voices, police said.

“He states, ‘I want to stab myself with a knife’ and more specifically to the neck,” the physician wrote. “He (is) also having thoughts of harming others without specific plan. Reports auditory hallucinations but would not describe what he is hearing.”

Video surveillance showed Earl leaving a hospital room at about 1:50 a.m. on June 23, going into an adjacent room where Rea was in restraints, and striking the man repeatedly in the neck in a stabbing motion, according to the report.

Earl then stabbed another patient who was on a gurney in a hallway in the leg, the report said.

Police said Earl “claimed not to remember hiding a knife under his bedding upon arriving at UMC.”

The Clark County coroner’s office ruled Rea’s death a homicide due to stab wounds of the neck and chest.

Steven Powers, one of Rea’s relatives, attended the court hearing on Friday and said his family wanted Earl to be found competent so he could face the charges. Powers, 35, said he and his family want answers about how Earl was able to attack someone in a hospital.

“There’s policies in place where that shouldn’t have happened,” he said.

Earl remained in the Clark County Detention Center on Friday without bail, jail records showed. He was ordered to appear in court again on Wednesday.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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