UH Prof Killer Likely To Escape Prison Due To Insanity

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Yesterday we wrote about

Kristen Dewald

killing her husband – a University of Houston professor – after hearing voices.

Dewald's next hearing is scheduled for December 3, and it seems likely the judge will issue a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity verdict.

A psychiatrist with the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County, Dr. Matthew Leddy, found that Dewald was legally insane at the time of the killing, according to documents in the case file. Also, a stipulated insanity verdict was noted on the court's files.

Officials with the court say there has not been a ruling on the case and there won't be a decision until December 3. Neither attorney would confirm to Hair Balls that an agreement has been reached, but they didn't exactly deny the possibility either.

"The case is on the docket for December 3; there will potentially be a disposition on that date. That's about what I'm comfortable saying right now," says Traci Bennett, who is prosecuting the case.

Previous hearings have been reset, but Bennett said she didn't anticipate another delay.

A not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity isn't a dismissal or a plea, and Dewald could remain under the court's supervision for the rest of her life, but the verdict would keep her out of prison.

Here, by the way, is her statement to the psychiatrist, as found in the case files:

The day of the fatal attack, I felt an intense fear. James came home from work and noticed some things were missing at the house. He let out a sigh and went into the television room. We didn't exchange greetings. As the evening went on, he started drinking. I was making trips to the dumpster, throwing things away and then retrieving them. There was a bright flashing light outside of the apartment. I believed that the flashing light would come into the apartment and that I would die. That precipitated the attack. I was hearing voices saying that I must do this.

At the time I attacked James, I believed that he would spring back to life and take my life. I believed that not only was it not wrong to kill him, but that I had to do it to save people's lives.

Even when I came to jail, I believed that I would be put into a holding cell and killed and that I was going to be put into a bone-breaking machine.

-- Paul Knight

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