SALT LAKE CITY — A judge has found that a man accused of violently killing his grandmother in 2012 is still suffering from daily hallucinations, including believing he is "a god" or "a fallen angel."
In a decision handed down Thursday, 3rd District Judge Mark Kouris found that Zachary Cole Weston, who is now 26, experiences hallucinations and hears voices between 70 percent and 80 percent of the time, leaving him incapable of facing the charges against him.
According to the judge's order, Weston experiences depression and schizophrenia and has a history of following the commands of the voices and "guardians" he hears, believing they are instructions to help him return to heaven.
The judge also said there is a chance the voices are instructing Weston how to respond when asked about what he hears, and Weston has said there is "a 5 to 10 percent chance" he will follow instructions from the voices rather than from his attorney.
Weston is accused of stabbing Joyce Dexter, 84, multiple times on Oct. 3, 2012. He is charged with aggravated murder, a capital offense.
Police were called to Dexter's Salt Lake home, 310 J St., where Weston was living, on a report of a possible domestic disturbance. When they arrived they found Weston standing over his grandmother while holding a bloody knife, the charges state.
Weston told investigators that he had "stabbed his grandma" and admitted that he "slit her belly, her jugular and her heart," charging documents state. A medical examiner later determined that nine of the 111 stab wounds were to the heart. Prosecutors said several of the victim's internal organs had also been removed.
Prosecutors argue that, after five years in the Utah State Hospital, Weston has reached the point that he understands courtroom proceedings and can behave appropriately during hearings.
But Weston's attorney maintains the man doesn't appreciate the extent of the charges against him or the consequences of decisions he makes in the case. When he is in the courtroom, Weston believes he can read the judge's mind and that his own thoughts are being broadcast into the room, according to Kouris' order.
Kouris found that while Weston remains incapable of facing the charges now, he may be able to in the future. Kouris ordered three more years of competency restoration treatment at the state hospital, with a review hearing scheduled for May 13, 2019.