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Palm Coast Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 2 years ago

Trial possible? State mental hospital says man charged in Mondex shooting 'restored to competency'

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Jonathan Edwin Canales was earlier found incompetent to stand trial in the shooting of his girlfriend, who was shot through the neck and left in a bathtub to bleed. She clawed her way out and called 911.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

A man initially found incompetent to stand trial in the nonfatal shooting of his live-in girlfriend — who was shot through the neck and dumped unconscious in a a bathtub to bleed, according to police reports — may yet face a jury.

Jonathan Edwin Canales, now 29, had previously been found incompetent in a hearing in June, and sent to a state mental hospital, the North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center. But a recent report from the hospital said Canales has been restored to competency, and a hearing was held before Circuit Court Judge David Walsh Jan. 6. Canales' attorney wrote in a court motion that he believed Canales was still incompetent to stand trial.

Walsh made no determination, but ordered Canales back to the hospital for further evaluation and set another hearing for 9 a.m. Feb. 23, according to a State Attorney's Office spokesman.

The shooting occurred in November of 2014 at the couple's trailer on Cherry Lane in the Mondex.

The 911 call came in at about 10:45 p.m. Nov. 15 from the victim, 25-year-old Tiffany Norman, who'd managed to drag herself out of the home's bathtub — bleeding from a gunshot wound to the neck — dress herself, and find Canales' cell phone. She told the dispatcher "I need an ambulance right now," according to a Sheriff's Office report, but Canales then took the phone away and began speaking.

Norman had been shot at about 8 p.m., almost three hours before.

Canales told the 911 dispatcher that Norman had shot herself with a .22 caliber rifle, but the dispatcher could "clearly hear Ms. Norman in the background state, ‘Stop lying,'" the Sheriff's Office report continued.

Medics pulled Norman out of the home on a stretcher and deputies found Canales sitting in the kitchen dressed only in a pair of green boxer shorts. They questioned him, and arrested him for having loaded, unsecured guns in a home with several kids.

But Norman, hospitalized at Halifax Hospital, wasn't able to speak to deputies for 10 days. 

Once she could, she told deputies the that couple, who had a child in common, had been at odds since the morning. That evening, he'd refused to let her use the car to take the kids, ages 2, 5 and 7, to the park; when she walked them there, she returned to find that he'd locked her and the children out of the home, leaving them to sit on the doorstep for an hour.

Later, as she was eating dinner, Canales came around behind her and said something that is redacted in the Sheriff's Office report, then she "heard something 'pop'" and "felt a very sharp pain in her neck and had buzzing in her ear" before falling to the floor and passing out.

She woke up in a bathtub, dragged herself out and went looking for her phone. It wasn't where she'd left it. She asked Canales where it was, saying she was bleeding and needed to go to the hospital; his reply is redacted in the Sheriff's Office report. She eventually found Canales' phone and called 911.

When deputies were finally able to speak to her Nov. 25, she told them she hadn't shot herself and that Canales never tried to aid her.

Deputies had initially charged Canales Nov. 15 — before Norman could speak with them — with three counts of child neglect for failing to secure his loaded firearms inside a home where three children lived.

He was released on bail, then arrested again Dec. 2 in connection with the shooting itself. 

He was charged with attempted first degree murder, but the State Attorney's Office downgraded that charge to aggravated battery with a firearm. He is also charged with delaying treatment for an injured person and with tampering with a witness or victim.

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