Man is found fit to go on trial in attacks that killed 4 in Rockford, Illinois

ROCKFORD, Ill. — A man was found fit to stand trial Thursday on charges of killing four people and wounding seven others during a series of frenzied attacks in a Rockford, Illinois, neighborhood.

The judge had ordered a psychiatric evaluation in April for 22-year-old Christian Soto, who is accused of stabbing, beating or running over the victims in March. He is charged with first-degree murder and other charges.

Winnebago County Judge Debra Schafer said Thursday at Soto’s hearing that she reviewed a doctor’s finding that he was fit for trial and said she agreed with it.

Soto’s attorney, Glenn Jazwiec, said his client waived a formal reading of the charges and pleaded not guilty. Schafer ordered him to remain in custody and set a July 24 status hearing for Soto, who appeared in court via video link.

He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder and residential burglary with a dangerous weapon. Prosecutors allege he killed Romona Schupbach, 63; Jacob Schupbach, 23; Jay Larson, 49; and Jenna Newcomb, 15, in the March 27 attacks in Rockford, a city of more than 140,000 people about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Chicago.

Authorities have said they have not yet determined a motive.

Winnebago County Prosecutor J. Hanley has said Soto told police he had smoked marijuana with Jacob Schupbach and believed the drugs were “laced with an unknown narcotic” that made him paranoid.

Soto first fatally stabbed Schupbach and his mother, then punched, stabbed and used a truck to run over Larson, who worked as a postal worker, authorities said. He then injured three people in one home and beat Newcomb, her sister and a friend with a baseball bat in another home, authorities said. The attacks took place within minutes.

Soto was arrested as he fled another home where he had stabbed a woman but was slowed by a driver who stopped to intervene, authorities said.