Man accused of killing his father sued for wrongful death



A 24-year-old man accused of murdering his father is now facing a lawsuit, according to court records.

William Joel Schonberger is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, filed Dec. 6, which seeks damages for elder abuse and the wrongful death of his father, 59-year-old William John Schonberger. The lawsuit was filed by Weslee Schonberger, William Joel's sister.

William Joel was arrested and charged with murder after he allegedly attacked his father with a machete on Dec. 9, 2016, in the Morro Bay home they'd been sharing for several years. The lawsuit does not include a specific dollar amount for damages, but notes that the family of William John was deprived of his "care, comfort, and society."

John Guy, a Torrance-based attorney representing Weslee, said the lawsuit was filed to preserve his client's rights to her father's estate. If a court determines that William Joel did, in fact, kill his father, then he would be disinherited from 50 percent of the estate.

"It's about a million-dollar estate," Guy said. "But the inheritance rights can't be determined until the criminal case is resolved."

The chances that the criminal case will be resolved any time in the near future are remote. William Joel was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial on Feb. 2, 2017, according to court records. Despite getting medication and treatment at Atascadero State Hospital, doctors were unable to bring him back to competency. According to mental health evaluations submitted to the court, while William Joel understands what he is accused of doing, he still holds deep delusions that prevent him from being able to participate in his own defense. Those include claims that his father was an "alien," "free mason," and "Neanderthal-hybrid," and that, "he didn't really kill a human being," one report stated.

"In the opinion of this evaluator, [William Joel] is not competent to stand trial, and there is no substantial likelihood he will gain competency in the foreseeable future," Psychiatrist David Fennel wrote in an April 28, 2018, evaluation.

A SLO Sheriff's Office spokesman said that William Joel is currently enrolled in a jail-based competency treatment program. Meanwhile, the county has filed to take conservatorship of William Joel, which would allow it to send him to a pyschiatric facility for further treatment. Δ


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