Judge finds suspect in murder of Nia Wilson competent to stand trial

A judge on Wednesday reinstated criminal proceedings against the suspect charged with murder in the fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Nia Wilson after reviewing a third doctor's report. 

KTVU's Henry Lee says the doctor found John Lee Cowell, 28, mentally competent to stand trial despite his mental illness.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge James Cramer suspended the criminal proceedings against Cowell last Dec. 27, saying there was "substantial evidence" that he's mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Cowell is charged with murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing Wilson and her sister, 26-year-old Letifah Wilson, on the platform at the MacArthur station at 9:36 p.m. last July 22.

He's also charged with a special circumstance allegation that he killed Wilson while lying in wait, an allegation that could result in the death penalty or life in prison without parole if he's convicted.

Wilson's parents were grateful with the judge's decision to move forward with the murder trial and hope the jury finds Cowell guilty in the death of their daughter. 

Cowell is being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. His next court appearance is on Aug 2 where he is expected to enter a plea. A trial date will be set later. 

The trial to determine Cowell's mental competency, set to begin July 29 has been canceled. 

Cowell's attorney Christina Moore said in a statement that Alameda County Superior Court Judge James Cramer's ruling "means that today the court has found that John Cowell is mentally well enough for the case to proceed."

But she said, "No ruling has been made about what John's mental state was at the time of the alleged offense. That is a separate, distinct question."

Moore said, "We all know that mental illness changes over time. How someone's illness presents today is not necessarily how it will present tomorrow."