Have you seen any stories like these in *your* local newspaper lately?
Order to murder came from 'devil,' expert testifies
By William Cole
Advertiser Courts Writer
© COPYRIGHT 2001 The Honolulu Advertiser
Wednesday, April 4, 2001
The man accused of murdering a vacuum cleaner salesman in Waialua said he was on a "mission" to kill people and chop up their bodies after voices commanded him to do so, a psychiatrist testified yesterday.
Dr. Robert Collis interviewed Michael Robert Lawrence after he was charged with second-degree murder in the 1999 disappearance of Melchor Tabag.
When Collis asked Lawrence why he was at Hawai'i State Hospital, Lawrence "said he was hearing voices telling him to kill him (Tabag) and chop him up. He said he chopped him up and brought him to the dump," Collis testified in Circuit Court yesterday.
According to Lawrence's lawyer, Tabag unwittingly became a victim of the defendant's psychosis when he knocked on Lawrence's door on March 27, 1999, with the goal of selling him a Kirby vacuum cleaner.
Lawrence, 25, is on trial without a jury before Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall on charges that he murdered the 41-year-old vacuum cleaner salesman whose body was never found. Lawrence's lawyer is raising the insanity defense.
During defense opening arguments yesterday, Deputy Public Defender William Jameson said Lawrence spiraled into a world of delusional thinking.
Isolating himself from the outside world, he became fixated on an unplugged computer monitor he once placed on the roof of his parents' Waialua home, Jameson said.
Lawrence "became sicker and sicker" and troubling voices became a command, Jameson said. "His mission was to kill and chop people up."
"What he (Tabag) found was a man — Michael Lawrence — who thought and believed Mr. Tabag would be the first of several (victims) to come," Jameson said. "Michael calmly struck the victim in the head and then stabbed him and then dismembered him."
City Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Takata said a refuse transfer station between Hale'iwa and Waimea Bay is the "dump" talked about by Lawrence, but police did not search there for Tabag's body because they heard about the dump more than a year after Tabag disappeared, and also because rubbish there is routinely moved to two other spots on the island.
Yesterday, Collis reported other bizarre behavior by Lawrence. While at the O'ahu Community Correctional Center, Lawrence didn't speak to anyone for weeks on end, collected his urine and smeared feces around the cell, Collis said.
Lawrence also told Collis that Bill and Hillary Clinton were his parents, that he was part of Microsoft, that he worked for the CIA and as an insurance agent, and that the "devil" gave him his mission to kill.
Lawrence, his ankles shackled and wearing a green OCCC jumpsuit, sat looking down yesterday, his curly long hair shrouding his face.
Lawrence faces life in prison with the possibility of parole if he is convicted of second-degree murder.
If he is acquitted by reason of insanity and deemed dangerous, he will be committed to the state mental hospital.
Two mental health experts who examined Lawrence — Collis included — concluded he was "substantially impaired" at the time of the killing.
A third expert, along with an expert hired by the state, said Lawrence was not substantially impaired.
Copyright 2000 -- The Detroit News.
Beating death spurs bystander law
Plan would require injury witnesses to notify authorities
Thursday, October 5, 2000
By Associated Press
KALAMAZOO -- The beating death of an aspiring social worker in a bus station where at least five adults ignored the attack has prompted two legislators to draft a "Good Samaritan" law. The legislation being drafted by state Sen. Dale Shugars, R-Portage, and Rep. Jerry Vander Roest, R-Galesburg, would require that people witnessing someone gravely injured immediately notify authorities.
The proposal is a response to the Aug. 17 beating death of Kevin Heisinger, 24. He was headed home to Chicago from orientation at the University of Michigan's social work program when he was attacked. Brian Williams, 40, of Ypsilanti has been charged in Heisinger's death and ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Authorities have said Williams has suffered from schizophrenia for 20 years, and reportedly told his brother he heard voices telling him to kill. He allegedly beat Heisinger to death in a restroom while at least five people sat within earshot of the attack and did not notify police.
No one is believed to have witnessed the attack. But police said several people heard Heisinger cry "stop" and "help" -- and one man went into the restroom, saw the victim lying in a pool of blood and walked out. A second man found Heisinger unconscious and also left without calling for help. A 9-year-old boy finally notified personnel at the bus terminal, where the city Department of Public Safety has a substation.
The adults later gave investigators no explanation for not helping Heisinger, police said. Shugars hopes to introduce the law, patterned after similar measures in California and Minnesota, when the Legislature reconvenes Nov. 9.
"Senator Shugars was very upset at the lack of compassion to an individual who was being physically abused and ended up being murdered," Bea Raymond, the lawmaker's chief of staff, told the Kalamazoo Gazette in a report Saturday. "I mean, just a simple scream for help might have stopped this individual's death. And it's sad that it took a child. And it was still too late." Some Michigan laws contain Good Samaritan language, but are narrower in scope than the measure being proposed by Shugars and Vander Roest. One grants immunity from civil damages to health personnel who provide care at the scene of an emergency. Other laws require care providers, teachers, social workers, counselors, nurses and police to immediately report abuse or neglect of elderly adults or children.
Jacksonville (FL) Times-Union
Sunday, May 27, 2001
Story last updated at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 27, 2001
Broward teen charged with fatally beating father with bat
The Associated Press
PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. - A teen-age high school dropout who told investigators he was acting on God's orders confessed to beating his father to death with a baseball bat, police said. Ronald Morgan, 18, a once-promising baseball player whose parents two weeks ago called police to force him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, was being held without bond Sunday at the mental health unit of the Broward County Jail.
Morgan was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault in the beating death of his 48-year-old father, Rick Morgan, Friday night at the family's home at the Holly Lake Mobile Home Park. Morgan was a disturbed youth with a history of drug abuse and a criminal record, according to Sgt. Michael Arnett of the Pembroke Pines police. Last year, he was arrested on charges of possession of narcotics, carrying a concealed weapon, tampering with evidence and possession of drug paraphernalia, he said.
Morgan tried to strangle his mother, Rosemarie Morgan, a few days before his father's slaying because she had him committed against his will, Arnett said. After the beating, the teen drove his father's pickup truck to the home of his grandmother, Mary Licausi, in Boca Raton. Licausi and the teen's uncle, Joe Licausi, later told police he had a lot of blood on his face and clothing and he told them in a matter-of-fact tone, "I killed my father, and I think I need to kill my mother," Arnett said.
Morgan said God told him in a dream to his kill his parents, Arnett said. "He just walked in and said, 'I just killed dad,'" Arnett said. "Then he went to the kitchen to wash up and said he was going to get a pack of cigarettes." Once Morgan left, his grandmother called Boca Raton police, who arrested him and contacted authorities in Pembroke Pines. Morgan spent Friday night in a Boca Raton police cell, then was transferred to Broward County Jail Saturday. He confessed he killed his father to Pembroke Pines detectives on Saturday morning, police said.
Morgan told detectives he was still angry over being forced to undergo the psychiatric evaluation. His parents had brought him to Boca Raton Community Hospital on May 9, said Morgan's lawyer, Barry Butin. He was delusional and making threats.
After being evaluated, he was transferred to South County Mental Health Center in Delray Beach. But on May 14, the center called his mother and told her to come pick him up. Morgan's family felt he shouldn't be released yet and is considering suing the center, Butin said.
Earlier this week, Morgan choked his mother, intending to kill her, but said he stopped because God told him to kill his father first, Arnett said. "We don't know whether she reported it," Arnett said. Rosemarie Morgan declined to comment Saturday, and did not immediately respond to a message left Sunday on her answering machine. Residents of the mobile home park told police the father and son had fought, sometimes violently, but still remained close. They said that when the teen dropped out of high school and turned to drugs, his father struggled to help his only child. Repeatedly, neighbors said, Rick Morgan got his son into drug treatment programs, and repeatedly, his son would drop out.
Conyers Teen Called Suicidal
Defense Psychiatrist Says Shooting Suspect Heard Voices
By Helena de Moura
Tuesday, August 10 , 1999
Copyright 1999 Reuters
Police escort school shooting suspect T.J. Solomon into the Rockdale County Courthouse in Conyers, Ga., on May 20 after he allegedly opened fire on other students at Heritage High School. (John Bazemore/AP Photo)
S U M M A R Y
At a hearing to determine whether a teen shooting suspect should be tried as an adult, a witness says the boy had suicidal thoughts and was obsessed with death.
C O N Y E R S, Ga., Aug. 10 — A Georgia boy accused of wounding six classmates in a May school shooting was plagued by suicidal thoughts and believed he heard voices giving commands, a psychiatrist testified today. T.J. Solomon, 15, is charged with 21 counts of child cruelty, aggravated assault and weapons possession in the May 20 shooting at Heritage High School in Conyers, about 25 miles east of Atlanta. All six of the shooting victims survived. The hearing was held to determine if Solomon would be tried as a juvenile or an adult. “He heard voices telling him to do strange things, but they were robotic voices, not human voices,” said Dr. Eddy Regnier, who teaches psychiatry at Harvard University and who was hired by defense attorneys to examine the boy.
If the court grants Rockdale County District Attorney Richard Read’s motion to try him as an adult, Solomon could face more than 350 years in prison. If tried as a juvenile, the most he could receive under Georgia law is five years.
Boy Not Improved, Witness Says
Regnier said that the youngster suffered from “major depression with severe psychotic features,” and appeared to have two personalities. “On the one side is this really nice guy,” Regnier said. “But on the other side is a kid harboring angry feelings, who had made two suicide attempts, who spent his time thinking of death. He’s bringing guns to school. He’s talking to friends, and what are they talking about? ‘I’m going to shoot you.’”
The psychiatrist said the boy, who placed the barrel of a gun into his mouth immediately after the school shootings but was talked out of pulling the trigger by an assistant principal, has not improved since his arrest. “I see a child that has deteriorated,” the psychiatrist said. “He’s autistic-like. He seems not to care. He says he has no need for friends. His teachers think he’s a ticking time bomb, but no one acts on it.” Regnier said the boy told him that he once went to the basement of his family’s home, got one of his stepfather’s guns and put it in his mouth, intending to pull the trigger. The boy said he was stopped when he heard someone coming downstairs. Since his arrest, Solomon has been under suicide watch at a juvenile jail. Authorities said he threatened to kill himself using metal from the braces on his teeth.
Suspect Was Withdrawn
Earlier in the day Solomon’s stepfather, Robert Daniele, told the court the boy was withdrawn in the months leading up to the shootings. Daniele, who manages a trucking firm, said Solomon was a standout baseball player when the family lived in North Carolina but lost interest in the sport when the family moved to Georgia in 1996. “He was one of the best players on his baseball team in North Carolina,” Daniele said. “He really loved baseball but just gave it up. The stepfather said the boy, whose lawyers have said he was taking the hyperactivity drug Ritalin, would listen to music for hours, silently rocking back and forth.
“I attributed this to being a teen-ager,” he said. “I guess now, looking back with the understanding I have now, there was something different. He had something bottled up.” In the days following the shooting, classmates said the boy’s girlfriend had just broken up with him. Daniele discounted those reports. “When I was a teen-ager, I used to love getting calls from my female friends,” he said. “But T.J. never wanted to talk to them. Whenever they called, he would tell his mother and sister that he didn’t want to talk to them.” The hearing was expected to continue Wednesday, when students return to Heritage High from their summer recess.
Man held, victim identified in slaying-dismemberment
The Detroit News -- Saturday, July 17, 1999
SUMMIT TOWNSHIP -- A diner cook accused of killing his waitress wife and dismembering her body in the mom-and-pop restaurant they operated was arraigned Friday on an open count of murder. Police say that Kevin Artz, 43, was carrying a cardboard box containing his wife's head when they arrived at the diner on Thursday. They said they saw him place the box on a porch of a nearby home. They found other body parts inside the restaurant. Her body had been dismembered in the kitchen, sheriff's Capt. Tony Philipps told the Jackson Citizen Patriot. Philipps said investigators weren't sure whether the entire body had been recovered.
Patricia Artz, 46, had been reported missing by her family after they had not heard from her since Tuesday. Authorities say one charred body part was found near a grill in the restaurant's kitchen. Evidence indicates that Artz may have placed body parts in hot water, causing the flesh to come off the bone, he said. "What they largely found was bones," Prosecutor John McBain said.
Pathologists made preliminary identification Friday afternoon using dental records, he said. He expects the identification to be confirmed within a few days.
Artz was arraigned Friday before Judge Carlene Lefere. Lefere set preliminary examination for July 27. She also began steps to appoint an attorney for Artz after he was unclear about whether he would hire his own lawyer. Lefere ordered him held without bond in Jackson County Jail. If convicted, Kevin faces up to life in prison. The Artzes lived in the living quarters attached to Kip's Pizza Taco House, Philipps said.
McBain said the slaying may have occurred in the living room. He said police found traces of blood in the living room and evidence that Artz tried to clean blood from both the living room and the kitchen. McBain said authorities were still trying to determine a time and cause of death. "The body was so significantly destroyed that it may be difficult to determine an exact cause of death," he said.
Patricia's younger brother, Joe Powers, said in a telephone interview with the Citizen Patriot that her family never had any indication there was any problem between the two. "I thought they loved each other," he said. "I thought he was the best thing that ever happened to her." Friends told the newspaper that Artz underwent some form of neurosurgery about a month ago after suffering fits of vomiting. The business had been closed down since the surgery as he recuperated. Eric Jorgensen, a longtime acquaintance and regular customer, said Ms. Artz phoned him last week to say she was concerned about her husband's short- and long-term memory loss since the surgery. "His family says they don't think that he has been himself since the surgery," Philipps said.
McBain said he was not fully aware of Kevin's medical history, but he said his office was preparing for a possible insanity defense.
Dew Escapes Death Sentence, Gets Life
Dave Brannen, News Director
February 2, 2001 5:55 AM
It's life in prison for the convicted killer of Ormond Beach resident, Donald Barton. In fact, 20-year old Jason Dew was handed two consecutive life sentences, one for killing the 39-year old street-sweeper and a second for robbing him. The jury opted for the life recommendation and the judge went along when he sentenced the North Carolina man. Dew claimed he heard voices that told him to kill the man. 20-year old Billy Ray Aaron, the other man accused in the July, 1999 slaying, is expected to go on trial in the coming months.
Published by The [Nashville] Tennessean -- Thursday, 7/29/99
School shooting defendant quoted as saying he heard voices
By Associated Press
A Lincoln County High School student charged with killing a classmate "heard voices" in the weeks before the shooting, a child psychiatrist testified yesterday. Jacob Davis, 19, is on trial in Nashville for charges that he gunned down Robert Nicholas "Nick" Creson, 18, in the school's parking lot on May 19, 1998, a few days before they were to graduate. William Kenner of Nashville testified for the defense that Davis was "losing touch with reality" in the days before the shooting. He said the teen-ager was depressed because his girlfriend was sleeping with Creson and he was exhausted from juggling his job, his romance and his school work.
The voices were "very loud" after a confrontation between the two in a drama class that day, Kenner said, "and seem to have precipitated these actions." "These actions," included Davis driving home to get the .22-caliber rifle and returning to school. He waited for Creson in the back parking lot and shot him three times.
Davis then sat on the ground with his head in his hands until he was arrested. The defense team is trying to show that Davis suffered "diminished mental capacity" at the time of the shooting that made him unable to form the intent required for first-degree murder. If the jury agrees, it could convict Davis of a lesser crime such as second-degree murder or voluntary homicide.
State psychologists called by the prosecution disputed Kenner's finding that Davis was suffering from severe depression with psychotic features, those features being the voices he heard in his head. The state's psychologists said Davis was depressed, but rejected the psychotic features contention.
"He said he heard voices calling his name," said Dr. Rokeya Farooque from the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute. "Voices calling his name is not indicative of a major mental illness." The prosecution introduced a letter written in March, two months before the shooting, in which Davis said he wanted to hear Creson's skin "tear and pop" while he, Davis, recited lyrics by the pop band Smashing Pumpkins.
"I want to put a three-inch diameter hole is his chest," Davis wrote. In another letter, according to Assistant District Attorney Eddie Bernard, he wrote: "I lust to kill him."
Bernard noted Davis has an IQ of about 130, was a top student and had been offered an academic scholarship to Mississippi State University. He noted that hearing voices was first mentioned by Kenner, not volunteered by Davis.
"You're telling me somebody with a 130 IQ is sitting in jail facing first-degree murder charges, and you ask him if he's hearing voices, he isn't smart enough to say 'yes?' " Bernard asked Kenner.
Kenner said he did not think Davis was making it up. State psychologists agreed they had found Davis to be open and honest during their evaluation of him.
Kenner testified Davis told him he had been emotionally devastated the night before the shooting. He said Davis was with his girlfriend shopping at a Wal-Mart for a pregnancy test. The girl told Davis she'd shopped in the same place for the same reason with Creson just weeks earlier, during a time she and Davis had been dating.
"He was literally floored," Kenner said, describing Davis as deeply hurt, crying on the floor of the Wal-Mart.
©Copyright 2000 News Tribune
Friday, January 14, 2000
Jury rejects insanity defense, convicts teen of killing his mother
CLAYTON, MO. (AP) -- A jury early today convicted a St. Louis County teen-ager of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his mother, rejecting an insanity defense. Vincent Greer, 17, was also found guilty of assault for shooting and wounding his father. And, he was found guilty of two counts of armed criminal action. Sentencing will be Feb. 18. The jury recommended life in prison.
The jury in St. Louis County Circuit Court returned its verdict at 12:25 a.m. today, after 12 hours of deliberations. The deliberations followed two hours of closing arguments by St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch and defense attorneys Brad Kessler and John Hullverson.
At 7:15 a.m. Nov. 26, 1997, Greer, then 15, ambushed his father, Stanley Greer, in the basement of their home in St. Ann; He then smashed through a glass patio door into the kitchen, put a rifle to the head of his mother, Donna Greer, 36, and shot her.
The facts of the shooting were unchallenged by the defense. The issue facing the jury was Greer's mental state. Both sides agreed that Greer suffered from a mental illness, and mental health experts from both sides said Greer knew at the time he was shooting his parents.
To find Greer innocent, McCulloch told the jurors, they had to find not only that Greer suffered from a mental illness but that he was "incapable of knowing the wrongfulness of his conduct."
"Obviously, a perfectly normal, well-adjusted 15-year-old doesn't shoot his parents," said McCulloch, who argued that Greer shot his parents for "a completely stupid reason. An adolescent thought: I'm grounded; I'm in trouble with my parents. It will be easier if I do all this."
Hullverson, however, put the case another way.
"Did he shoot his parents because he didn't want to be under their rules or was his mind taken away from him by a mental illness that he did not ask to have?"
Added Kessler: "Donna Greer was a good mom. She was a good person. She was killed by a mental disease."
Kessler said the defense had shown Vincent Greer's yearlong downward slide from an "All-American boy" to a victim of schizophrenia. He cited the testimony of Stanley Greer; Vincent Greer's sister, Lindsay; other relatives; friends; teachers; and two psychiatrists.
As part of his mental illness, Kessler said, Vincent Greer heard voices and those "command hallucinations" told him to kill his parents.
McCulloch relied on the testimony of Patricia Carter, a psychologist, who ruled out schizophrenia and concluded Vincent Greer understood right from wrong.
"You might as well be a weatherman when you try to predict a mental illness," said McCulloch of the psychiatric testimony in the case. "The question is: Was he incapable of knowing what he did was wrong?"
Psychiatrist says teen unable to aid in defense
Patrick Lee Harned, charged in the killing of a 7-year-old girl, faces 2 counts of aggravated murder
The [Portland] Oregonian
Wednesday, February 9, 2000
By Jonathan Nelson, Correspondent, The Oregonian
ASTORIA -- A psychiatrist testified Tuesday that anti-psychotic drugs have quieted the voices in Patrick Lee Harned's head but that the Astoria teen still can't help his lawyers defend him.
Dr. William Sack said the drugs he recently prescribed for Harned are helping. But Sack said he doubts Harned would be able to assist his lawyers at trial a year from now.
Sack's testimony came during a hearing to determine whether Harned, 17, is competent to stand trial on two counts of aggravated murder in connection with the Feb. 11, 1999, slaying of 7-year-old Ashley Ann Carlson. Harned's lawyers have said if their client goes to trial they intend to use a mental defect defense. The hearing is scheduled to continue today.
Police say Harned strangled Carlson, then buried her body under the floorboards in his parents' home.
Sack concluded Harned is showing early signs of schizophrenia after the teen talked of hearing voices telling him to kill. Sack said he thinks Harned's mental state has deteriorated in the past year.
But Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis suggested Harned's behavior is consistent with someone charged with such a serious crime. Marquis repeatedly emphasized that in numerous medical examinations Harned talked of being released in three years if he is found mentally incompetent to stand trial. Marquis said Harned's recitation of the law demonstrates he not only understands the charges against him but also what it would take to beat them.
"What is the difference between a person telling lies and someone who is delusional?" Marquis asked Sack. "How do you tell the difference?"
"It's difficult," Sack acknowledged.
Death Penalty News -
Monday, April 6, 1998 --TEXAS:
In Angleton, testimony is scheduled to begin today in the capital-murder trial of a Houston man accused of shooting 4 people to death in 1996.
Virgil Martinez, 29, a former security guard, was arrested at a mental hospital in Kerrville 2 weeks after killing his ex-girlfriend, her two young children and another man during a shooting rampage near Alvin, authorities say.
Veronica Fuentes, 27, her 3-year-old daughter, Casandra, 5-year-old son, Joshua, and John Gomez, an 18-year-old Houston man described as a family friend, were killed Oct. 1, 1996.
Neighbors and Brazoria County Sheriff's Department officials said the killings were linked to Fuentes' breakup with Martinez two months earlier. The 4 victims suffered multiple gunshot wounds, investigators said.
Authorities say Martinez fled to Del Rio after the shootings and then wound up in a mental hospital in Kerrville under an assumed name after he called Del Rio police to complain that he heard voices telling him to kill.
During jury selection last week, Martinez's court-appointed attorneys told prospective jurors that he denies any involvement in the slayings. A neighbor of the slain woman testified at a preliminary hearing in October 1996 that she heard Veronica Fuentes cry "No, Virgil" before she saw him shoot Fuentes in the yard of Fuentes' mobile home.
A sheriff's deputy also testified at that time that John Gomez, shortly before he died, told him Fuentes' ex-boyfriend had shot him.
Jury selection in the case was completed Wednesday before state District Judge Ogden Bass, who has placed a gag order on attorneys involved in the case.
(source: Houston Chronicle)
From the Tulsa World
Nursing home employee charged in near-smothering
By From staff and wire reports
SPIRO -- A felony charge has been filed against a nursing home employee who allegedly told police that he heard voices telling him to smother a resident at the facility. John Patrick McKenzie, 33, of Stoney Point, is charged with assault and battery with intent to kill in the Feb. 1 incident.
A Spiro nursing home resident told a nurse that an employee had tried to smother him with a pillow. When police questioned McKenzie, he allegedly told them that he was upset because he couldn't find his time card. He also said he heard voices. McKenzie was being held in the LeFlore County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail. A mental evaluation is planned.
MARtin F. ABErnathy ----- [email@example.com] ----- 7/13/01