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Phoenix man pleads guilty to murder in wife’s decapitation

February 15, 2018

This undated photograph released by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office shows a mugshot of Kenneth Dale Wakefield, accused of decapitating his wife and their two dogs in 2015 before mutilating himself. Wakefield has pleaded guilty Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, to murder and animal cruelty charges. The plea deal recommends a 29-year prison sentence for Wakefield in the 2015 death of Trina Heisch. His sentencing is scheduled for April 6. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix man has pleaded guilty to murder and other charges in the decapitations of his wife and their two dogs in a bizarre attack in which he also mutilated himself by pulling out one of his eyes.

The plea deal reached on Tuesday recommends a 29-year prison sentence for Kenneth Dale Wakefield in the July 2015 death of Trina Heisch. The punishment will be decided by a judge at his April 6 sentencing hearing.

The agreement signals an end to the prosecution of crimes that were discovered when a neighbor who came to check on the couple found their west Phoenix apartment covered in blood and a naked Wakefield with self-inflicted injuries.

Amanda Jacinto, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County attorney’s office, confirmed that Wakefield pleaded guilty to murder and animal cruelty charges but declined to comment further on the case. His attorney Kyle Kinkead didn’t immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment.

Wakefield, who met Heisch while they were each serving 10-year sentences in a state mental hospital for stabbing relatives, had pursued an insanity defense in his wife’s death.

He told investigators that he stabbed Heisch during a fight that erupted after he decapitated one of the couple’s two dogs. He later killed the second dog.

Wakefield offered bizarre explanations for the killing, telling investigators that he was hearing voices when he attacked his wife and was trying to thwart evil when he later mutilated himself, including cutting off one of his forearms, according to police reports.

He was high on synthetic marijuana and methamphetamine on the day of the attack and told police he was “doing it for God and the end of the world to be peaceful,” according to police reports.

At the time of the attack, Wakefield had been recently released from the state mental hospital after a psychiatric review board said it believed his mental health problems were in remission and he wasn’t dangerous if he lived in a residential treatment program.

The board later asked prosecutors to keep him committed at the hospital, but prosecutors say they were unsuccessful in trying to extend his stay, so Wakefield was released.

In the days after the decapitation, Phoenix police had questioned the decision to release Wakefield from the hospital.

Heisch and Wakefield were found to be “guilty, except insane” on an attempted murder charge in the stabbing of relatives.

Wakefield pursued an insanity defense in the case stemming from his wife’s death, but it’s unclear what became of the strategy. A judge ordered most of the court records on the strategy to be sealed off from public view.

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Follow Jacques Billeaud at www.twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud. His work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/jacques%20billeaud.

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