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Posted on Tue, May 14, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

Woman pleads guilty but mentally ill in fatal stabbing of father

By Kyle Feldscher

Susan Wade will serve at least 20 years in prison after pleading guilty but mentally ill to second-degree murder for killing her father last June.


Susan Wade

Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office

Wade, 49, admitted in court Tuesday to stabbing Ronald Mason, 86, multiple times. Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge Donald Shelton accepted the plea agreement, which will see a count of open murder dismissed at sentencing.

According to portions of reports read aloud by Shelton in court Tuesday, Wade suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and was having auditory hallucinations at the time she killed Mason. In a report from Dr. Phillip Margolis, professor emeritus of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, the auditory hallucinations were cited as one reason for the murder.

“She could not control her behavior, goaded by the voices, referring to auditory hallucinations … Mrs. Wade killed her father,” Shelton said, reading from the Margolis report.

Wade stabbed Mason between 20 and 30 times on June 9, 2012 at his home in the 1700 block of Covington Drive in Ann Arbor. Police said Wade stabbed Mason while he slept and then returned later on when she thought she saw him moving.

In court Tuesday, Wade said she only was visiting her father for a week at his home but had not been taking her medication. She was on weekly injections and taking pills daily to combat her mental illness, according to a report done by the Forensic Center.

When asked if she was trying to kill her father, Wade became choked up.

“No, I wasn’t your honor, but I was not taking my medication,” she said, pausing for breath. “I’m very sorry for what I did.”

Wade said in court she is a widow and her mother, Mason’s wife, also had passed away. She repeatedly attributed the incident to not taking her medication.

“I didn’t take my medication, so I don’t know what I was thinking about,” she said.

Wade’s attorneys, Washtenaw County Assistant Public Defenders Gina Noveskey and Chris Renna, intended to argue at trial Wade was not guilty by reason of insanity. The Margolis report would have indicated she was not criminally responsible for her actions at the time of Mason’s death.

However, Noveskey said Wade decided to waive her right to a trial and accept the plea deal instead.

Washtenaw County Assistant Prosecutor Blaine Longsworth provided the Margolis report, the Forensic Center report and the preliminary exam transcript as proof of Wade’s mental illness.

“The defendant was mentally ill at the time she killed her father,” Longsworth told Shelton.

Under a plea of guilty but mentally ill, Wade will be subject to the same criminal sentence she would be under a normal guilty plea. However, with the plea, she will be given psychiatric care for her mental illness. The Michigan Department of Corrections or the Michigan Department of Community Health may provide the treatment, according to state law.

Shelton will set the maximum sentence at sentencing, which is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 11. She remains lodged at the Washtenaw County Jail without bond.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Wed, May 15, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

Whole Dude - Whole Care: Firstly, I must thank 'Halflight' for shining full light on this subject. She is sane and hence the Court has accepted her decision to plead guilty. However, we have to still account for the loss of innocent life. We heard the testimony given by two experts who are not basically involved in providing care for her illness. There is a problem in our health care delivery system. It was a wrong decision to treat her as an outpatient. She needed treatment as an inpatient. Her treatment was not properly supervised and it is no surprise that she has missed her medication. It happens most of the time when a patient is treated as an outpatient and there is no friend or relative to supervise the administration of pills on a daily basis. Very often, these patients need some medication for rest of their lives. The health care reform introduced by President Obama fails to define the term health and hence we have no choice other than that of providing health care in our prisons to citizens with such mental illness.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 2 p.m.

20+1 years in the future: We can rest assured that when she's filing out an application to buy a gun and get background checked; she'll answer the question: "Have you ever been convicted of a felony or do you have a history of mental illness?, " she'll put down: "Of course not, Silly." But not to worry: by then we'll all be protected by our Invisible Shields of Personal Gun Free Zones created by an overwhelming majority of the Gun-Knife-Paper Clip & Pressure Cooker Control Party. No one will notice though because we'll all be breathing in the smoke from 50ยข cigar-sized legal marijuana joints. How's that for Climate Control?! :-) Imagine the Nirvana which awaits us: when the only fully-automatic thing left will be 50% federal income taxes. The Colt, Remington, S&W and Glock factories will be churning out gourmet chocolate bars. Yay!


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 12:02 a.m.

And what is to become of her when she gets out at 69 years of age? Good chance she'll fall out of the system, go off her meds again and then try to hurt someone again. The system that deals with the mentally ill is very broken. The only time a person like this is taken seriously is once they've hurt or killed someone.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 11:52 p.m.

If she is indeed mentally ill at the moment, how can she assist in her own defense? And having taken the plea for 20 years imprisonment, let's assume a few years treatment results in a clean bill health from the medicos. She no longer presents a danger to others or to herself. With this kind of sentence, is that when she's cut loose or does she stay in lockdown until the 20 years are up?


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

There are two different issues: mental competency to stand trial, and the legal insanity defense. To be found mentally competent to stand trial, a court must find that the defendant understands the nature of the charges against her, and is able to assist her defense attorney in preparing her defense. A legal insanity defense must prove that, at the time of the offense, the defendant "lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his or her conduct or to conform his or her conduct to the requirements of the law". The court has found Ms. Wade legally competent to stand trial, otherwise it can not accept a guilty plea. By entering the guilty plea, the prosecution and defense agree that Ms. Wade was and is mentally ill, but that mental illness was not of a nature and severity to amount to legal insanity. The plea "guilty but mentally ill" has the same result as a guilty plea, except the state agrees that the defendant has a mental illness, and the state will provide treatment for the illness. She will serve the same sentence, but may be placed in a psychiatric hospital if doctors deem it necessary. If not, she'll serve her sentence like any other convicted murderer.

Richard Carter

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 2:32 a.m.

My understanding is that she serves the sentence, just the same as "guilty." This just gets her medical/psychiatric treatment.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

Probably for the best, given her history of non-compliance with medication. Sad.