Local News

Murder charge dropped in Zebulon decapitation case

Posted October 11, 2017 2:02 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:40 p.m. EDT

— Authorities have dismissed a murder charge against a Franklin County teen accused of beheading his mother in March, saying he isn't mentally competent to stand trial.

Oliver Mauricio Funes Machada is charged with first-degree murder in the March 6 death of his mother, 35-year-old Yesenia Funes Machada.

In a statement released Wednesday, District Attorney Michael D. Waters said after reviewing a report prepared by mental health professionals, it was determined that Machada does not have the mental capacity to proceed with the case.

"Specifically, could he appreciate the charges against him and participate in his defense and the mental health professionals there determined he could not at this time," Waters said.

Machada will be committed to Central Regional Hospital in Butner for mental health treatment.

"Should the defendant's capacity to proceed be restored, he would be returned to the custody of Franklin County Sheriff Ken Winstead, and the District Attorney's Office will reinstate the charges against Machada," the statement read.

Authorities were called to a home at 90 Morgan Drive in Zebulon on March 6 after Oliver Funes Machada called 911.

He told a dispatcher that he had stabbed his mother because he was mad at her. Authorities said that he also cut off her head with what appeared to be a large butcher knife and had walked out of the home holding her head in one hand and the knife in the other as Franklin County deputies arrived at the home.

AUDIO: 911 call released in Franklin County murder

The mental capacity of the 18-year-old, who is in the U.S. illegally, has been an issue since shortly after his arrest.

He was moved from Central Prison to Central Regional Hospital for a mental exam. Defense attorney Boyd Sturges also wanted to bring in his own psychiatrist for a second evaluation, saying he believes Funes Machada belongs in a psychiatric hospital long term, not a prison.

"We don't know what is going to happen with him and his mental state, and so we will continue waiting, and either he will be found capable to proceed at some future time or he won't be," Waters said. "That is not the same issue as to whether he was insane at the time that he committed these offenses."

In March the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed an immigration detainer following his arrest.

According to an ICE spokesman, if Machada is being treated at a mental health facility, the detainer would no longer apply. He would only be detained by ICE if he were being released all together.

"At this point, he is not going to be deported until this matter is resolved," Waters said.