CARLSBAD — A San Diego Superior Court judge found enough evidence at a Carlsbad man’s preliminary hearing in a Vista courtroom April 8 to order him to stand trial for killing his elderly parents.
Dennis Brian Gluck is charged with two counts of first-degree murder with the allegation that he used a weapon, in this case a machete, to brutally murder his parents. Jean and Harry Gluck, 77 and 90, respectively, were found dead in their home in the 2700 block of Chestnut Avenue on Jan. 18.
Dennis Gluck remains in custody without bail because the case against him is a capital offense, Deputy District Attorney Steven Carver said outside the courtroom. To file a capital case in California prosecutors have to charge a special circumstance, which in this case is the commission of multiple murders.
Because a special circumstance is alleged, Dennis Gluck could face life in prison without parole or the death penalty if convicted, Carver said. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis will make that decision at a later date, he said.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His next scheduled court appearance is an arraignment hearing scheduled for April 21.
Mexican police apprehended Dennis Gluck on the evening of Feb. 26 on a bus near Ensenada and turned him over to Carlsbad police detectives around 1:35 a.m. Feb. 27 at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, Carlsbad Detective Bryan Hargett testified. He said transactions from Mexico started to appear on Dennis Gluck’s ATM card Jan. 16. During his time in the country, authorities believe he traveled through Baja and mainland Mexico, Hargett said.
Dennis Gluck’s parents were found after family members asked the police to check on the couple because they couldn’t reach them by telephone, Hargett testified. Also Jean Gluck’s brother, Tom Regan, 78, who is legally blind and hearing impaired, told one of his nephews that he believed the couple left on Jan. 16 with Dennis Gluck, but hadn’t returned home yet. Regan also resided at the home and was sleeping in his bedroom across the hall from the couple’s bedroom when the murders occurred, the detective said.
When police arrived, Regan was at the residence and granted access to the home so officers could complete a welfare check, Hargett said.
Inside the couple’s bedroom, police found their mutilated bodies, Hargett testified. Additionally, the head and torso of Harry Gluck appeared to be burned and then extinguished, the detective testified.
During the search of a small shed attached to the house, police found a machete with blood on it and a gasoline can, which they believe was used as an accelerant to start the fire, Hargett said.
Jean and Harry Gluck had filed a restraining order against their son in 1992 after he started exhibiting threatening behavior towards them.
Dennis Gluck consulted several psychiatrists, but would always break off his sessions after several meetings or when the doctor wanted to prescribe him medication, which he believed he did not need, Harry Gluck wrote in his request for the restraining order. He spent time in a state mental health facility in Sacramento after a prior arrest, Harry Gluck wrote.
His attorney, Michael Washington, said he hasn’t made a decision about a mental competency hearing in the case.
Such hearings are held to determine whether the defendant is capable of understanding the court proceedings and assisting in their defense.
If found incompetent, defendants are sent to a state hospital for an average of 90 days to receive psychiatric treatment, at which time their case is put on hold. They are then re-evaluated and their case is resumed if they are found competent. If they are found incompetent, they are sent back to the hospital for more treatment.