The 1992 death sentence of a man convicted of a string of murders and robberies  in San Diego in 1985 was overturned by the California Supreme Court on Monday because he was permitted to represent himself in court, despite the fact that a psychological evaluation had indicated he was likely suffering from a delusional thought disorder.

The supreme court unanimously ruled that a lower court judge improperly permitted Billy Ray Waldon to represent himself at trial despite testimony at an earlier competency hearing indicating that he suffered from paranoia and a thought disorder impairing his ability to think clearly. The court thus ordered a new trial for Billy Ray Waldon.

The judge rejected an earlier decision by another judge who had determined Waldon lacked the capacity to act as his own attorney.  California hasn't executed an inmate since 2006, and in 2022 Governor Gavin Newsom ordered death row to be dismantled.

In addition to being convicted of three charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder, rape, burglary, seven counts of robbery, and two counts of animal cruelty, Waldon is currently being held in San Quentin. His appeal was automatically granted due to his death sentence, reports courthousenews.

Authorities said that over the course of two weeks in December 1985, Waldon shot and killed Dawn Ellerman and set her home on fire, killing Erin Ellerman, her teenage daughter, through smoke inhalation, reports usnews.

In addition, according to authorities, he entered into an apartment, raped the resident, stole the purses of four women, shot and murdered Gordon Wells as he worked on a car, and injured a neighbor who heard the shooting and attempted to help Wells.

Six months later, Waldon was eventually taken into custody.

According to the Supreme Court's decision, at trial, Waldon alleged that federal agents had set him up for the offenses "to thwart his efforts to promote world peace, spread new languages, and advance Cherokee autonomy."   Additionally, he said CIA agents had been watching him. 
Waldon's crime spree put him on the FBI's most wanted list, and the following June he was captured after attempting to flee from officers who had stopped him for a traffic infraction.

A jury found Waldon guilty of a number of offenses, including three charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder, arson, burglary, rape, and robbery.

The case was remanded back to the lower court for further proceedings after the Supreme Court overturned Waldon's conviction and sentence. 

"We believe the Court reached the right result in Mr. Waldon’s case," Chief Deputy State Public Defender Christina Spaulding said. "He was deprived of counsel at his capital trial and reversal was required."

billy ray Former top-ten most-wanted fugitive Billy Ray Waldon was sentenced to death in 1992. Twitter/@CourthouseNews