Mental health questioned in teen's murderShane Hawkins repeated stabbed 17-year-old Jason Grau, killing the teen while he was lying on a sofa in Hawkins' home in Chippewa Falls, on Feb. 22.
By: By Chris Vetter, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis., Superior Telegram
CHIPPEWA FALLS -- Shane Hawkins repeated stabbed 17-year-old Jason Grau, killing the teen while he was lying on a sofa in Hawkins' home in Chippewa Falls, on Feb. 22.
That statement is not in dispute anymore. Hawkins pleaded guilty Nov. 22, admitting to murdering Grau.
Now the question remains if Hawkins was mentally competent at the time of the murder. Defense attorney Aaron Nelson will attempt to show this week that Hawkins is suffering from a mental disease or defect in an effort to get Hawkins into a state mental hospital instead of a state prison.
Hawkins moved Grau's body to the north bank of the Chippewa River, where it was found Feb. 24.
Police arrested Hawkins on Feb. 26, and he was interviewed four times over a three-day span. During those interviews, he acted strangely, talking about needing to drink fish water to stay alive, and claiming voices were telling him to kill Grau and others. However, at a hearing in June, psychologist Harlan Heinz testified that Hawkins was mentally competent to stand trial.
"The whole trial will be on his mental state at the time," Chippewa County District Attorney Jon Theisen said after Hawkins pleaded guilty. "The burden switches to the defense. We've won our case."
Nelson said he has hired a psychologist who examined Hawkins to determine if Hawkins was mentally competent last February and understood his actions. Nelson said the doctor's analysis of Hawkins' mental state is sealed, and won't be filed until before the trial begins. Nelson wouldn't divulge any details of the doctor's findings, but indicated they would differ with Heinz' opinions.
"It's my burden to prove that (he was mentally incompetent)," Nelson said.
Last week, Nelson submitted a list of 23 witnesses he plans to call to testify, ranging from Corin Tubridy, mental health case manager for Starting Points, to Dr. William Weggel, Luther Midelfort psychiatrist, to Roger Jagow from the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Health at Marshfield Clinic. Other medical professionals who are slated to testify include Dr. Mahmoud Ahmed, a Marshfield Clinic psychiatrist, and Dr. Gregory Van Rybroek with the Mendota Mental Health Institute.
Because the burden is on Nelson to prove his case, he will present his case and witnesses first, which is expected to take at least four days. Once he rests his case, Theisen will present his witnesses.
Among the witnesses Nelson plans to call are Jeremy and Brandi Kitchens of Amarillo, Texas. Brandi Kitchens is Hawkins' sister, and she told authorities that several people had suggested that Hawkins be sent to a home for treatment, but she resisted that.
In court records, Jeremy Kitchens recalled talking with Hawkins about a story of a deceased child at an orphanage in Chicago.
"Jeremy Kitchens claimed that Shane Hawkins said the deceased girl's soul was trapped at the orphanage and Shane had to release it," the court document states. Jeremy Kitchens said he had talked with his wife about having Hawkins committed.
At hearings in September, Nelson brought up in court several times that Hawkins was struck by a car when he was 14, and that he may have some lingering brain injuries. Hawkins has a large scar that loops on the right side of his head that is visible when his hair is short.
Police officers who interviewed Hawkins have stated in court that they felt Hawkins was acting and making up the voices. They also noted that Hawkins' father and brother believed that Shane Hawkins was a normal individual, and were surprised by his actions.
Along with pleading guilty to murder, Hawkins pleaded guilty in November to hiding a corpse, which has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Copyright (c) 2011, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis./Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.