Thirty-year-old Bobby Brown was transported to court Friday morning from San Francisco General Hospital. His attorney V. Roy Lefcourt said he was being held in a psychiatric ward.
"He's been there under a 52-50, a danger to himself and to others," Lefcourt said.
Brown has been charged with 18 felonies, including four counts of attempted murder. Prosecutors say he stabbed five people in separate incidents. They say his victims include three Muni passengers; 11-year-old Hatim Mansori, 24-year-old Rachel Brown and another woman who prosecutors say was stabbed in May.
Brown's attorney told Judge Donna Little he has doubts about his client's mental state and his ability to assist him in his case.
The judge scheduled a hearing to determine Brown's competency.
"I want to make sure my client is completely understanding what I'm saying and is balanced and if he needs medication, he gets it," Lefcourt said.
All of this caught the prosecution by surprise.
"In terms of the mental health stuff, the mental health issues, we did not see in charging the case; we didn't see anything that would prohibit us from going forward criminally," District Attorney spokesperson Brian Buckelew said.
Brown has a long rap sheet and more than two dozen arrests ranging from attempted murder to minor crimes.
San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon says he can see how Brown could have weaved his way in and out of the judicial system.
"It's a system that is overburdened by the workload, all you have to do is to see how many cases a prosecution carries, how many cases a judge has to deal with, how many times an officer makes an arrest," Gascon said.
Brown will be back in court on Monday for the competency hearing. At that time, the judge is expected to appoint a psychiatrist or psychologist to evaluate his mental state.