County Attorney speaks about decapitation case
PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The Maricopa County Attorney spoke out on the gruesome murder case where a man allegedly decapitated his wife.
The suspect was released from the state mental hospital months ago, then allegedly killed his wife.
County Attorney Bill Montgomery says the suspect already spent a decade in a mental facility for an attempted murder charge.
Montgomery says his office did what it could to keep Wakefield committed before last month's murder, but the request failed.
He says it was hindsight, but now it's clear that Kenneth Wakefield was a danger to society.
The 43-year-old is accused of decapitating his wife, killing their two dogs, even cutting off his own arm and gouging out his eye. It all happened ten months after he was approved for release from a mental health facility.
But Federal Patient Privacy Laws ban Montgomery from discussing why Wakefield was ever released.
"Whether or not there were any rulings, or findings, or treatment conclusions prior to that I can't discuss," said Montgomery.
Wakefield spent a decade in a state mental institution after being found guilty, except insane, for attempted murder from 2004. Montgomery says his office filed paperwork to keep Wakefield committed, before the murder.
"We were directed to file a petition for civil commitment, we did so, and we were prepared for the hearing," said Montgomery.
Because of privacy laws, he can't say why the petition was rejected, but he says there's often a conflict between the criminal justice and mental health systems.
Supreme Court rulings from the 1970's direct that mental health treatment should be provided in the least restrictive settings. Montgomery says he's looking to push for changes in state law for specific circumstances.
"Are we simply going to accept that there are going to be occasions where something slips through the cracks for whatever reason? I don't think I can stand by as County Attorney to think this could happen again," said Montgomery.
Wakefield is being held now on a $2 million bond. He faces charges for first-degree murder, domestic violence, and two counts of animal cruelty.