Crime

Man accused of stabbing stranger raking leaves in Boise yard pleads not guilty

The suspect in a brutal stabbing attack in southeast Boise last November will stand trial this fall.

Ruben Diaz, 36, pleaded not guilty to felony aggravated battery and misdemeanor resisting arrest in 4th District Court on Tuesday morning. He’s also charged with a felony enhancement-use of a deadly weapon and felony-persistent violator.

Diaz is accused of stabbing and slashing 76-year-old Gary Vinsonhaler, who was doing yard work and raking leaves when he was approached and eventually attacked by a stranger.

A trial is set to start at 9 a.m. Oct. 30. Prosecutors expect it to take about six days.

Prosecutors asked that evidence presented at Diaz’s preliminary hearing be temporarily sealed, including a 911 call, short video clip of the attack and a screenshot from an officer’s body camera. Diaz’s attorneys opposed the sealing of the evidence, which they argued was already made public via media reports.

Fourth District Court Judge Jonathan Medema said he would issue his ruling on the motion in writing. Diaz’s next scheduled court hearing is his pretrial conference at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 22.

Vinsonhaler testified at Diaz’s preliminary hearing. His wounds included multiple slashes to his his face and neck, chipped teeth and severe damage to a facial nerve.

A history of mental illness and violence

Diaz had been released from prison just four months before the alleged attack and was on parole.

An Idaho Statesman investigation in December found that the parole commission knew that Diaz had a history of violence as a result of mental illness. He told a state parole commission that, when not medicated, he could lapse into delusions that other people were aliens.

Doctors diagnosed schizophrenia and autism in Diaz sometime before 2008, and he would stop taking his medication and threaten people with violence or attack them, according to court records. The parole commission agreed to release Diaz only into the custody of a facility that could monitor his medication.

Diaz was living in an assisted living facility, known as the Hancock House, only a few blocks from Vinsonhaler’s house.

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