An Independence man charged with killing his mother in October 2015 will remain in Missouri Department of Mental Health custody after he pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
Shane Harrelson, 26, had been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Michelle Harrelson, 47. The change in plea, to which Jackson County prosecutors did not object, came Thursday in the Eastern Jackson County Courthouse in Independence.
The court had ruled late in 2017 following a mental-health competency assessment that Harrelson was able to proceed to trial. However, because of his mental state at the time, his attorney Curtis Winegarner explained after the hearing, Harrelson could not be held “criminally culpable” of the killing.
Winegarner, said the court's ruling is like a civil commitment in that the Department of Mental Health will be charged with his care and ensuring he doesn't present a danger to the public or himself.
Winegarner acknowledged Harrelson could be released years from now, but only after intense evaluations determine he would no longer be a danger.
“A homicide, those cases get a lot of scrutiny,” he said.
According to court documents, Michelle Harrison's boyfriend found her in a brush pile outside her home after she had been shot, stabbed and beaten to death. He called Michael Harrelson, Shane's father and Michelle's ex-husband, who then called police. When police located Shane in a detached garage, he was freehanding a tattoo of the word “MOM” on his leg.
Police could tell while interviewing Shane that he suffered from some type of mental issue based on his behavior, mannerisms and his rambling, nonsensical answers, according to court documents. Shane said he had a “vivid” memory and “kissed” his mom “goodbye” but would not elaborate on either statement.
Court documents said Shane told police that his mother “chastised him for being lazy and dirty.” He did not deny being responsible for his mother’s death but became agitated about police discussing his mother and showed no emotion when shown photos of the crime scene.