Man may stand trial for 2001 double-murder in Morro Bay

Stephen Deflaun


Nearly 21 years after two people were killed at Morro Strand State Beach in San Luis Obispo County, a man who had long been deem mentally incompetent may soon stand trial for the crime. [Tribune]

In July 2001, Stephen Deflaun, now 63, allegedly murdered an 11-year-old boy and his uncle following an argument over a campsite at the beach located in north Morro Bay. Deflaun allegedly shot and killed the boy and man before firing at a park ranger. 

Deflaun was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. For three years after the double-homicide, he failed every competency hearing. 

Then, in July 2004, a judge ordered Deflaun to remain at Atascadero State Hospital (ASH) or another mental health institution indefinitely until he was deemed competent. 

During a 2004 court hearing, then-ASH forensic psychologist Allan Roske said Deflaun would likely never be able to stand trial. At the time, Deflaun had delusions that made him believe conspirators could hear his thoughts as they plotted to kill him. Deflaun did not think he had a mental illness, which is a common symptom of the neurological condition Anosognosia, Roske said.

After being ruled incompetent, Deflaun entered a conservatorship with SLO County. Deflaun currently remains in the conservatorship. 

However, in December 2021, a judge ruled Deflaun was competent to stand trial. On Wednesday, a judge scheduled a preliminary hearing in the case for next month

DeFlaun is currently in the San Luis Obispo County Jail, where he has been held since Dec. 8, according to the county sheriff’s office website.