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Suspect in mom's death plans insanity defense

FARMINGTON — Jeremy Jacob Hauck, the man charged with fatally shooting his mother and stuffing her body into a freezer, plans to mount an insanity defense.

Hauck's attorney, Todd Utzinger, has filed notice with 2nd District Court that his client will claim he is not guilty of killing Laura Hauck, whose dead body was found in a basement freezer Aug. 7, 2006.

His lawyer also has petitioned the court and received permission to have mental health evaluators determine Hauck's competency to stand trial, which is a legally less stringent standard than an insanity defense; determine whether Hauck is not competent due to mental retardation; and also make an assessment of his mental condition at the time of the alleged crime.

Worried relatives had called police because they had not heard from Laura Hauck for a few days, and the ordinarily punctual woman had not shown up for work. Police searched her Bountiful condominium and found a gun shell casing, a large pool of blood on a bed and a blood trail leading to a utility room. Inside, Laura Hauck's body was found frozen solid in a chest-style freezer. She died of bullet wounds to the head, according to a medical examiner's report.

Jeremy Hauck, now 19, was missing and later was arrested in Montana, where he and his mother used to live.

Defense lawyers rarely attempt to use an insanity defense, because Utah's laws regarding those who would claim to have been insane at the time they committed a crime are among the strictest in the nation.

One high-profile case involving the insanity defense involved diagnosed schizophrenic Leonard Preston Gall, who pleaded guilty but mentally ill to second-degree felony manslaughter and theft in 2003. He was charged in connection with the 2001 murder of his mother, Susan Gall, 57, who had been killed with an ax in her home.

At the time of the crime, Gall believed that his mother was not a human being but a "torture machine" that was poised to kill him and his brother.

A judge sent Gall to the state hospital. He has since appealed his sentence.

Gall had a lengthy and documented history of mental illness., and his mother had tried, usually unsuccessfully, to get greater mental health services for her troubled son. Among other things, she had tried but failed to get him committed when he was in a psychotic episode that resulted after he stopped taking medication for schizophrenia.