The Journal Gazette
Thursday, November 15, 2018 1:00 am

Suspect's mental health questioned

Accused killer's lawyer asks for examination

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne man who allegedly told police he was possessed by demons and Adolf Hitler after he attacked and killed his mother last month had battled mental health problems for “several years,” according to court documents filed by his lawyer.

Jason A. Steiss, 34, is charged with murder in the Oct. 24 killing of Joy Steiss in her home on Stanford Avenue. He told police he bit, punched and choked her, a probable cause affidavit said.

Defense attorney Donald C. Swanson Jr. has asked a judge to order doctors to examine Steiss to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.

An Allen Superior Court magistrate had been scheduled Wednesday to set a trial date for Steiss, but that was postponed so a judge can consider Swanson's request.

“Reasonable grounds for a hearing exist in that the defendant has been under a guardianship for mental health reasons for several years and lacks the capacity and ability to understand the proceedings and assist in the preparation of his defense,” a document filed by Swanson stated.

The document does not include details about Steiss' problems.

Swanson also has indicated Steiss will rely on “a defense of mental disease or defect.”

Police who arrived at the home said Steiss told them he was possessed and asked to be killed.

“I murdered my mother,” he said, according to the affidavit. “I am a bad person. Kill me. I need to be put down so I don't hurt anyone else.”

A status hearing is scheduled for Jan. 15.

If Steiss is ruled incompetent to stand trial, it would be the second such ruling in a case this year in which the action was taken in a case involving a man charged with killing his mother.

Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull in July ordered Chad A. Ingram into the custody of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Mental Health Division after psychologists found him incompetent to stand trial.

Ingram, 43, is charged with murder in the November 2017 beating death of Heidi Colley, 61, in New Haven.

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