ALLEGAN COUNTY, Mich. (June 27, 2014) — Attorneys for the 15-year-old suspect in Wednesday’s fatal stabbing in Wayland has asked that their client has a competency exam.
All of the trial dates for Joshua Keyzer have been postponed, pending the outcome of the evaluation.
Keyzer is charged as an adult for the murder of his cousin, 21-year-old Kassandra Keyzer. He is also charged for the attempted murder of his grandmother, 67-year-old Sharon Keyzer. Kassandra has a young son and was scheduled to get married in July. Sharon was already battling cancer before the assault.
Former Muskegon County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brett Gardner said that their is an important difference between competency and an insanity plea.
Gardner said that a judge will decide if Keyzer is competent after reviewing the psychiatric exam. He said that’s if a judge feels they need more evidence, they will ask for more witness testimony.
Gardner said that competency doesn’t consider the defendant’s mental state at the time of the crime, and instead looks at their present state.
“There are alerting circumstances to the defense attorney or the court that the individual that is charged with a crime is not understanding the preceding against them, or if it is clear they can’t assist their defense,” said Gardner.
Investigators said that Keyzer was seen attempting to take his life by stabbing himself with a knife before running when police arrived to the home in Wayland Township.
Gardner adds that to prove insanity in general, a jury would decide if the defendant understood what they were doing at the time of the crime. Expert testimony would have to prove during a trial that Keyzer did not cognitively understand his actions during the stabbing death of his 21-year-old cousin Kassandra Keyzer in order to prove insanity.
A friend of Keyzer told FOX 17 that in the days leading up to the deadly assault, Keyzer had been saying things to friends that seemed delusional.
Gardner said that during an insanity determination trail, the court would also look into the mental history of the defendant.
“You are going back sometimes years to make a determination of the person mental state and it seems to be kind of when you are looking at it in the perspective of a juror, you are looking back years,” said Gardner.
Gardner said that Keyzer will not be treated any differently when it comes to mental health even though he is a minor, but adds that a jury’s decision tends to be affected when the defendant is a kid.