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Lawyer: Bizarre Circumstances Surround Beheading

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JACKSON (AP) –  A man charged in the death of a 59-year-old Jackson woman found beheaded in her apartment likely didn’t understand what happened the day of the killing, his lawyer told a judge in a request to have his client undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

In his request to send 46-year-old Leo Kwaske for testing, attorney Jerry Engle described the circumstances surrounding Shirley Meeks’ slaying as “bizarre,” the Jackson Citizen Patriot reported Tuesday.

“He may not have been able to understand what he was doing or the consequences of his actions, or (have been) able to stop himself even if he had some understanding of it, at the time this occurred,” Engle wrote.

Engle wrote that Meeks’ head was found in Kwaske’s apartment in the same building. He was arrested in a parking lot at their apartment complex about 70 miles west of Detroit on Oct. 15, the day Meeks’ body was found.

“Mr. Kwaske was dressed in female attire when arrested,” Engle wrote.

Police haven’t said where her head was found, citing an ongoing investigation into the killing.

Kwaske has been held at the Jackson County Jail since being evaluated Monday at a state facility. He was charged last week with felony murder, mutilation of a dead body and first-degree home invasion.

Engle wrote that Kwaske refuses to talk with him.

Records show Kwaske has a history of mental illness, and Engle wrote that he believed Kwaske wasn’t taking medication as directed. Engle said no medication was found with Kwaske or in his apartment.

Engle had asked to have Kwaske evaluated for his competency to stand trial and his sanity at the time of the crime, and a judge ordered that last week.

A hearing was set for December to review results of the evaluations and determine whether a preliminary hearing would be scheduled to determine whether there is enough evidence for him to stand trial.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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