April 6, 2018 / 9:15 PM / 8 months ago

Arizona man sentenced to 29 years for decapitation-murder of wife

(Editor’s Note: story contains graphic details some readers may find upsetting)

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona transient with a history of mental illness was sentenced on Friday to 29 years in prison for a murderous rage in which he decapitated his wife and their two puppies, then maimed himself, a court official said.

    Kenneth Dale Wakefield, 46, was sentenced by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge in Phoenix after pleading guilty in February to second-degree murder and two counts of animal cruelty stemming from the rampage, court spokesman Bryan Bouchard said.

    Wakefield severed his left forearm below the elbow and gouged out one of his eyes after killing his wife and their pets inside the couple’s Phoenix apartment on the morning of July 25, 2015, authorities have said.

Wakefield told investigators he was trying “to get the evil out” of his wife, 49-year-old Trina Heisch, when he attacked her, and had smoked marijuana and the designer drug Spice about an hour beforehand, according to court documents.

    Wakefield’s attorney could not be reached for comment following the sentencing, and the prosecutor’s office had no immediate comment.

    Local media reported that Wakefield delivered a teary-eyed apology to his wife’s family during the sentencing hearing.

    “I just wanted to say I’m sorry,” he told the court, according to an account posted on the Arizona Republic’s website. “I can’t change it. I suffer also. She was my best friend.”

    Police alerted to the blood-splattered crime scene by a neighbor who was checking on the couple found Heisch’s headless body and her two pets slain inside a bedroom closet and discovered several bloody knives in the apartment.

    Authorities said the couple met in a mental institution and that both had an extensive history of psychiatric illness and violence. They described Wakefield as a drifter.

    He was arrested in 2003 for attempting to kill a family member, and Heisch was arrested in March 2015 for assault after attempting to stab her husband, police said.

Reporting and writing by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by Steve Gorman and James Dalgleish

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