Psychiatrist: Suspect grew up surrounded by superstition, dysfunction
BROWNSVILLE — John Allen Rubio grew up surrounded by superstition and dysfunction, and his background coupled with drug use and worsening schizophrenia erupted into the killings and decapitation of three small children, a psychiatrist said Wednesday.
“He still holds out the hope that someone will believe his story, someone will find him credible, somebody will understand what he did,” Dr. William Valverde said. “He thought he was at the end of the world and the forces of evil were doing battle with the forces of good.”
Making opening statements for the defense, attorney Nat Perez told jurors evidence will dispute the prosecution’s argument that Rubio and his common-law wife, Angela Camacho, were lucid when Rubio asphyxiated, stabbed, and beheaded Camacho’s children and that they did so because they were destitute.
Authorities said the couple confessed to repeatedly stabbing and decapitating Julissa Quezada, 3; John Esthefan Rubio, 1; and Mary Jane Rubio, 2 months old, in March.
Rubio has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the four counts of capital murder, one count for each child and another because more than one victim was killed at the same time.
Valverde said he believed Rubio knew what he had done, knew the consequences of his actions, and was able to assist his attorney in preparing a defense, which under Texas law makes him competent to stand trial.
But that all came later, Valverde said.
“He was insane at the time of the commission of the crime,” he said.
After a series of jail consultations, Valverde diagnosed Rubio with paranoid schizophrenia, a condition exacerbated by years of inhaling as many as five cans of spray paint a day. Valverde said that spray paint contains volatile compounds that directly attack neurons.
He added that there is no medical definition of insanity, only a legal concept of being unable to distinguish right from wrong at the time of the offense.
Rubio had grown up believing his mother and grandmother were witches and that he had been called to save the world from evil. At the time of the killings, Valverde said, Rubio believed the world was coming to an end. He and Camacho saw a woman with what they took to be the “mark of the beast” and were sequestering themselves in the apartment.
First the couple thought demons were inhabiting hamsters, then the children. From a movie, Rubio thought the demons wouldn’t leave the children until he cut off their heads. Under a phenomenon called “fole a ‘deux,” the two may have shared the same delusion.
Both Rubio and Camacho told investigators they thought the children were possessed, according to authorities.
“He knew that the only was you can kill evil and the only way you can kill devils is to sever the heads,” Perez said.
Perez also said evidence will dispute that the two killed the children because they were desperate. He showed unused government assistance vouchers for food and said that there was food in the couple’s pantry the day of the killings. He said the couple knew about a foundation that took families in if they lost their homes.
“Poverty was not an excuse for this offense,” Perez said.
If convicted, prosecutors may ask the jury to sentence Rubio to death.
The trial for Camacho, a Mexican citizen, is awaiting determination of her mental health.