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Bench Trial Set For Man In Neighbor’s Beheading

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Leo Kwaske (Booking Photo)

Leo Kwaske (Booking Photo)

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JACKSON (WWJ/AP) – A bench trial is scheduled for a southern Michigan man authorities say beheaded his 59-year-old neighbor.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot reports Jackson County Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson will hear the case of 47-year-old Leo Kwaske on Aug. 1.

Kwaske on Tuesday waived his right to a jury trial.

Investigators believe Kwaske used a hammer to behead  Shirley Meeks, who lived above him in the Reed Manor Apartments in Jackson, about 70 miles west of Detroit. Her body was found Oct. 15 in her apartment. Her head also was found, although police haven’t said where.

Kwaske was charged last year with felony murder, mutilation of a dead body and first-degree home invasion. Doctors have determined he is competent to stand trial, but was insane at the time Meeks was killed.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Mark Blumer told the Jackson Citizen Patriot Kwaske is on medication and while he can comprehend what is happening now, he doesn’t understand what he did in October.

Court documents show that Kwaske apparently believed Meeks was involved with a demon and thought he was protecting himself and the rest of society. He reportedly said he believed Meeks would have killed him with her thoughts.

The judge is expected to determine whether he’s not guilty by reason of insanity. If that’s the case, Kwaske would be committed to a mental institution.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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