Following a judgment of not guilty of murder by reason on insanity Nov. 12, Kirk Heithecker was officially committed to 180 days in a state hospital Wednesday in 271st District Court.
The district attorney’s office can file a request that the order be renewed for up to a year at the end of the 180-day time period. The same request can be made at the end of each time period if the state feels Heithecker remains a threat to the public.
According to records on file in the district clerk’s office, the court found that Heithecker has “a severe mental illness,” that is “likely to cause serious harm to another.” The court further ordered that Heithecker be committed as a patient at the North Texas State Hospital in Vernon for inpatient treatment.
The court’s findings were based on a couple of mental evaluation reports provided by physicians who examined Heithecker on Nov. 21 and 22.
According to the court records, Manish K. Jha, chief psychiatrist at the hospital, diagnosed Heithecker with “Schizophrenia, paranoid type.”
“He (Heithecker) continues to endorse auditory hallucinations and exhibits paranoia, illogical thinking, disordered thought process and poor judgment and insight,” Jha wrote in his report. “In my opinion, he will not be able to demonstrate that he is not manifestly dangerous in immediate future.”
Heithecker was also examined by Dr. Sandy Le, who also recommended inpatient hospitalization. In her report, Le shares a few of the statements made by Heithecker, including, “Obama might be in my head, but the intonations aren’t all there. Or my cat might be in there. Another day, it’ll be Abraham Lincoln. It’s madness.”
Heithecker, 49, is accused of killing his 75-year-old mother, Nancy Heithecker, at their home south of Decatur sometime over Mother’s Day weekend earlier this year. He pleaded “not guilty by reason of insanity” in November. The state did not contest the plea.
Psychologist Dr. Jim Womack of Fort Worth testified during the trial that after examining Heithecker, he determined that the man was insane at the time of the murder, unable to grasp reality or know the difference between right or wrong. Womack said Heithecker had stopped taking his anti-psychotic and mood stabilizer medications prior to the incident in May that led to his mother’s death. Being off his medications led to delusions and auditory hallucinations such as hearing tapping on his window.
An autopsy of Nancy Heithecker determined the cause of death as homicidal violence including blunt force trauma and strangulation.