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Mental competency hearing scheduled for man accused of fatally stabbing girlfriend

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A mental competency hearing was scheduled Friday for a man accused of fatally stabbing his live-in girlfriend with a pair of cutting shears before setting two fires in their Clairemont home while three others slept.

Anthony Elias Estrada, 42, is charged with murder and arson in connection with the Feb. 6 death of 46-year-old Margaret Pappas.

In July, a judge ruled Estrada was mentally competent to stand trial but ordered the defendant to be evaluated for developmental disabilities before criminal proceedings are reinstated.

At Estrada's arraignment in February, the prosecution said that he and Pappas, who had been dating 14 years, lived at a home on Huron Avenue with her two daughters and the boyfriend of one of the daughters.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 6, Estrada allegedly stabbed Pappas once in the chest and twice in the head, then covered her body with clothes on the bed.

The defendant put two pet birds outside before starting two fires -- one in a rear bedroom and another in the living room -- and left the home, according to the prosecution. The fires did not fully engulf the house, and the other residents were able to escape safely.

Firefighters found the victim -- a special-education teacher's aide -- in the same bedroom where one of the blazes was extinguished just after 5 a.m. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Estrada walked to Clairemont High School and allegedly made some admissions to public officials there.

Police did not disclose a motive.

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