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COVID concerns delay mental health evaluation for 95-year-old shooting suspect

Okey Payne is accused of killing a maintenance worker at a Lafayette assisted living facility in February.

BOULDER, Colo. — The mental health evaluation to determine if the 95-year-old man charged in connection with a fatal shooting at an assisted living facility in Lafayette is competent to stand trial has been delayed due to COVID-19 concerns.

Okey Payne was in court Wednesday morning where the evaluation was discussed and it was revealed that there was a recent COVID-19 outbreak at the state mental hospital where the evaluation is set to take place.

>The video above is a prior report about the case from February

In addition, according to court testimony, the geriatric unit at the facility in Pueblo is full, and that is where Payne must be evaluated.

RELATED: Case against 95-year-old assisted living center shooting suspect on hold due to mental competency concerns

Prosecutors asked the judge to allow the evaluation to be completed at the Boulder County Jail instead, but the judge denied the request. As of now, it is unclear when the evaluation might take place, but there's no time frame on when space might open in the geriatric unit at the hospital.

A hearing was set for June 24 to review the status of Payne's transport to the facility. A second hearing was set for Aug. 11 to review the findings of the evaluation, if it's completed by then.

Payne is accused of shooting and killing Ricardo Medina-Rojas on Feb. 3, 2020.

Officers with the Lafayette Police Department (LPD) responded to the Legacy Assisted Living Facility at Lafayette around 7 a.m. that morning for a report of a shooting. They arrived and found the victim, Medina-Rojas, who had been shot in the head. He died later that day, according to police. Payne is also accused of threatening two people who came to aid the victim.

Shortly after the shooting, he was arrested in his room at the facility.

RELATED: 95-year-old suspect in assisted living center shooting formally charged

According to the facility, Medina-Rojas was the maintenance director and had worked there for eight years. They also said he was "truly beloved" by both residents and staff.

Payne had lived at the assisted living center since October 2019. According to an arrest affidavit, Payne told investigators that staff at the center had been stealing from him since that time. He said that an old manager was fired for the theft, according to the affidavit, but that the theft continued afterward.

The theft allegations were investigated by LPD and Adult Protective Services and were "unsubstantiated," the affidavit says.

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