Judge: Clayton Man Insane at Time of Daughter's Slaying
Posted January 3, 2008 1:01 p.m. EST
Updated January 4, 2008 9:23 a.m. EST
Smithfield, N.C. — A judge ruled Thursday that a Clayton man was insane when he heard voices tell him his 4-year-old daughter was an evil spirit, and John Patrick Violette will go a state mental hospital, not to trial on a charge that he murdered the girl.
Superior Court Judge Jack A. Thompson ruled at the end of a hearing triggered by attorneys' plans to use an insanity defense. Violette cannot be charged again with the Jan. 12, 2007, slaying of Katlin Violette at their home.
Dr. Charles Vance, a psychiatrist at Dorothea Dix Hospital, who examined Violette, testified Thursday that Violette was hearing voices telling him his daughter was an evil spirit. Violette was quoting the Bible and screaming uncontrollably when he was arrested the at a Washington, D.C., hotel the day after the killing, authorities said.
Also at the hearing, Violette's wife, Amber, called her husband "the most loving, kind, gentle and compassionate man" who would not have hurt their daughter unless something was wrong.
She and Violette both cried during her testimony, the first time he had shown any emotion during the proceeding.
Defense lawyers maintained Violette's mental condition meant he couldn't be held responsible for the slaying. Vance agreed that Violette was unaware his actions were wrong and was "tremendously psychotic" at the time of the slaying. There was no possible motive other than mental illness, Vance said.
Dressed in a dark suit, wearing glasses and sporting a closely cropped haircut, Violette showed little emotion as Vance testified at the hearing in Johnston County Superior Court. He stared straight ahead and occasionally talked with his attorneys during the hearing.
Vance said Violette had a history of hearing voices more than 10 years ago, but he responded well to treatment. A few weeks before Katlin Violette's slaying, Violette starting hearing voices again, telling him he was an agent of the "Christ Intelligence Agency," or CIA, Vance said.
On the day of the slaying, the voices gave Violette "overwhelming messages" that his daughter was an evil spirit or was possessed by evil spirits, Vance said. Violette responded by grabbing a knife and fatally stabbing the girl.
Violette decapitated his daughter and put her body in trash can to keep the evil spirit from escaping, Vance said.
Convinced the apocalypse was about to occur and would consume the East Coast, Violette tried to meet up with other CIA agents in Montana, Vance said. Because he couldn't get a direct flight to the northwest from Raleigh-Durham International Airport, he traveled to Washington, where he was arrested, Vance said.
"We felt it was in his best interests, his need for treatment and for supervision" said David Williams, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church, where the Violettes worshipped. "We're just very, very grateful (to the judge), and it was a great relief to the whole family."