Judge: Schabusiness competent to stand trial for gruesome Green Bay murder
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A Brown County judge found Taylor Schabusiness mentally competent to stand trial after hearing from prosecution and defense experts Thursday afternoon.
The Green Bay woman is accused of killing Shad Thyrion and then dismembering his body. Thyrion’s head was located in a bucket and other body parts were found in Schabusiness’s vehicle, prosecutors say. She’s charged with 1st Degree Intentional Homicide, Mutilating a Corpse, and 3rd Degree Sexual Assault.
Schabusiness told investigators she and Thyrion had been doing drugs. They went to his mother’s house, where Schabusiness said they had sex. She said she blacked out during part of it but just went “crazy” and started strangling Thyrion with chains. She said she didn’t mean to kill Thyrion but enjoyed choking him and continued to do it.
Judge Thomas Walsh agreed to hold the competency hearing after the defense’s forensic psychologist said more time was needed to evaluate the defendant.
Minutes after Schabusiness was ushered into the courtroom in shackles, Judge Walsh asked her directly whether she believes she’s competent or incompetent to proceed. “Incompetent,” she answered.
For the next four hours, as Schabusiness sat quietly, the court listened to testimony from two board-certified forensic psychologists who painted two very different pictures of the same defendant.
The state-appointed expert, Deborah Collins, testified that she talked with Schabusiness for about 75 minutes at the jail on April 4. “I would characterize her as cooperative, responsive to my questions so she didn’t require a lot of redirection. There were certainly moments where her expressed emotions were odd or out of context, but at no point did she appear distracted,” Collins said.
The defendant told her she abused alcohol, meth, acid, cocaine and Xanax. Her first stay in a psychiatric facility was in 7th grade after she attempted suicide. Collins said Schabusiness’s mental health history included diagnoses of bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Collins said Schabusiness didn’t show any signs of psychosis and that she understood what was happening in court and potential penalties. “She used the word, when asked, she attached the charges to the potential for life incarceration.”
However, when Tracy Luchetta, who testified for the defense, evaluated Schabusiness on April 22, she told her something else. “She noted that the most serious consequence she would receive if convicted is the death penalty.” Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.
Luchetta went on to describe Schabusiness during her 2 hour and 10 minute evaluation. “She responded cooperatively yet many aspects made me concerned about thought process. She voiced a statement that was peculiar and seemed consistent with delusional beliefs.” Luchetta gave an example that Schabusiness said her mother died when she was 11 and took her heart to heaven and gave it to a pedophile, and she was controlled by it.
Luchetta testified she had to repeat questions or redirect Schabusiness because the defendant often didn’t respond to the questions that were asked.
The defense attorney pointed out Schabusiness isn’t receiving psychiatric treatment right now and argued his clients mental state deteriorated in the two weeks between her evaluations. However, the judge said he didn’t find that credible because the evaluations were done by two different psychologists. “I don’t give a great deal of credence to that in this respect,” Walsh said.
Prosecutors contended a person can have symptoms of mental illness and still be competent to contribute to their defense and participate in their trial.
Judge Walsh sided with the prosecution. “By greater weight of the credible evidence, the defendant is competent.” If Schabusiness were found not competent, the court would have likely ordered treatment until she regained competency.
The next court date is a preliminary hearing on June 2.
Schabusiness remains jailed on a $2 million cash bond.
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