Stephen Miles is going to be locked away in a psychiatric facility for a very long time for cutting off his stepmother's head, after Dakota County District Judge Kathryn Messerich ruled late Friday that the Eagan man murdered the woman -- but was mentally incapable of understanding what he was doing.
"He's guilty, but he's not guilty," Marsh Halberg, Miles' lawyer, told the Pioneer Press. "He's going to have to go through a long civil-commitment process before he can be released to show he's not a danger to himself or others."
But he won't go to jail.
Miles took a hatchet to Maris Jo Miles' head one December day in 2005 while his father was out shoveling snow at his Burnsville home. He finished the job with a kitchen knife, left her body on the kitchen floor, her head in the rack of the family's dishwashing machine, walked out onto the porch, sat down and told his father, Roland, what he had done. The police came a short time later.
The depressing narrative in the PiPress of Miles' life makes it clear that he hasn't been in his right mind since childhood, when he had bizarre fears of radio waves attacking his brain:
He said he decapitated his stepmother because she was very sad and "I wanted her not to feel like (expletive)." He said he put her head in the dishwasher to "get her clean," according to court records.
He later said he did not know she was dead and did not believe removing her head would kill her, and the head could be reattached with stitches.
"She might have been surprised," he said. "I don't think her head had ever been separated from her body before."
His parents had tried unsuccessfully for years to get psychiatric help.