A 24-year-old Centralia man was found not guilty Thursday by reason of insanity for the 2011 stabbing death of Frank Augustine, a Centralia business owner.
In the first day of the two-day discharge hearing, Judge Michael McHaney had found the state had overwhelmingly met its burden of proof Wednesday in Marion County Court the charges against Christopher K. Newcomb.
Witnesses for the prosecution Wednesday included police detectives from the Centralia Police Department, as well as Katherine Beard, Newcomb’s former landlady who Newcomb was charged with stabbing June 1, 2011, hours before the brutal murder of Augustine.
In addition to witness testimony, McHaney heard from the defendant through the videotapped interview he had with police the day of his arrest.
However, on Thursday the defense presented only one witness, clinical psychologist Dr. Daniel Cuneo, who testified that Newcomb suffered from psychosis, delusions, auditory and visual hallucinations, along with looseness of thoughts and extreme mood swings.
Cuneo said Newcomb was diagnosed as schizoaffective disorder with bipolar and was legally insane at the time of the attacks.
Following his ruling Thursday, Judge McHaney ordered Newcomb remanded back into custody of a secure mental facility.
According to defense attorney Steve Quinn, while his client can never be tried for the crimes for which he was charged, he will likely spend the rest of his life in Chester Mental Health Center, where he has been held since September 2011, when he was initially found unfit to stand trial.
“This is sad for everyone,” Quinn said of the situation, noting the family of Frank Augustine has suffered greatly.
Newcomb had spent many years of his childhood in Centralia until his family moved to Kentucky when he was approximately 15-years-old. While a student at Centralia High School, he was enrolled in special classes for behavioral issues.
Quinn says his client had a history of mental illness, and had been hospitalized from the time he was 16 until he was released just prior to his 19th birthday, per Kentucky law.
According to Quinn, he was never able to have a cognizant conversation with Newcomb and that despite being placed on 2,500 milligrams of Depakote and other antipsychotic medications, his client still suffers from visual and auditory hallucinations.
“This is all very sad,” commented Quinn. “But Christopher will be where he needs to be.”