A 20-year-old Hoopa man has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to stabbing an Arcata man to death in a Valley West apartment two years ago.

Deputy Public Defender Kelly Neel entered the plea this morning for Richard Villa Dean II, who was 18 when he allegedly murdered 52-year-old Anthony Michael Pennucci, a person he apparently did not know.

Judge Christopher Wilson set a preliminary hearing for next month, and in the meantime Neel and Deputy District Attorney Stacey Eads are to come up with suggestions for doctors to examine Dean.


The Hoopa man has a history of mental illness. He was initially declared incompetent to stand trial and was sent to a state hospital for treatment. After some months state officials certified his mental competence had been restored, and criminal proceedings were reinstated against him in March of this year.

Today Wilson warned Dean that entering an insanity plea could mean being sent to a state hospital indefinitely “for restoration of sanity.” Dean said he understood, though he kept yawning and didn’t seem focused on what was happening.

Dean’s grandmother attended the hearing today and spoke with Neel afterward.

A few days after the killing on Oct. 25, 2015, Arcata police tracked down and arrested Dean in Hoopa. Officers had gone there to question him, and he allegedly threw something at a patrol car and damaged it. After he was jailed, a warrant was served at the residence where he was staying.

There, investigators found the murder victim’s wallet and car keys, along with clothing Dean was apparently wearing when Pennucci was attacked. It’s believed he was stabbed inside the apartment, where he lived alone. Witnesses found him lying outside on a sidewalk, bleeding to death from multiple wounds.

Dean is being held in Humboldt County Correctional Facility on $1.1 million bail.