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Father accused of decapitating son unfit for trial, judge rules

By Rick Martin, CNN
updated 7:58 PM EDT, Tue October 18, 2011
Jeremiah Lee Wright, the 30-year-old father who police say decapitated his son, was ruled unfit for trial on Tuesday.
Jeremiah Lee Wright, the 30-year-old father who police say decapitated his son, was ruled unfit for trial on Tuesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police say Jeremiah Lee Wright confessed that he beheaded his son
  • Wright is being sent to a mental health facility for evaluation, his attorney says
  • A hearing is set for January 31 to see if his status has changed

(CNN) -- A 30-year-old father who police say decapitated his 7-year-old disabled son is unfit for trial, a Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, judge ruled Tuesday.

Jeremiah Lee Wright is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jori Lirette. The second-grade boy was killed on August 14 in the town of Thibodaux. The killing was an act horrific enough to shock the community and grab national attention. Police have said Wright confessed that he decapitated the boy.

District Judge John E. LeBlanc found Wright "was not competent to stand trial," Court Clerk Pam Cheriamie said.

"Two psychiatrists appointed by the court to examine Wright were subpoenaed to testify," she said.

But Wright's defense attorney, Kerry Cuccia, said the psychiatrists didn't testify, but their reports were submitted.

Cuccia said he could not say why his client was found not fit to stand trial. "The judge sealed the records with specifics on the mental evaluation," he said. But he added, "The judge announced my client lacks the mental capacity to proceed and stand trial. This means he has to appropriately understand the nature of the proceedings before him and be able to assist his lawyer with his own defense."

He said Wright was sent to a state mental health facility in Jackson for further evaluation.

A status hearing was scheduled for January 31 "to see if he's been rehabilitated and (is) competent enough for trial," Cheriamie said.

Thibodaux police were called to Wright's house on August 14 by a person who said a severed head was sitting on the side of a city street.

Investigators found a white garbage bag nearby with the child's body inside, police said.

"The child had cerebral palsy and was bound to a wheelchair (and also had) additional disabilities," Thibodaux Police Chief Scott Silverii said in August. "He also required a feeding tube and he wasn't able to speak verbally."

The chief said Wright confessed he decapitated the child. Investigators recovered a hacksaw that they believe was the murder weapon.

"During the interview, Wright said he was taking care of (the child) for so many years and he just started to look at him as no longer his son, just an inanimate object," Silverii said. "He and the child's mother had some issues. And he purposely put the child's head in a position for her to see it."

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