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Posted on Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Attorneys for woman accused of killing her father plan to argue she was insane

By Kyle Feldscher

Records filed Wednesday in the Washtenaw County Trial Court show attorneys defending Susan Wade, who is charged with killing her father last June in Ann Arbor, plan to argue she is not guilty by reason of insanity.


Susan Wade

Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office

According to a witness list filed Wednesday, the Washtenaw County Public Defender’s Office plans to call Dr. Phillip Margolis, professor emeritus of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, as a witness. Margolis did a report that disagrees with the state’s forensic center analysis ruling Wade is competent to stand trial, according to records.

“The People are already in possession of Dr. Margolis’s report which opines that Ms. Wade was legally insane at the time of the alleged crime,” the document states.

Wade, 49, is accused of stabbing her father, Ronald Mason, between 20 and 30 times on June 9, 2012, at their home in the 1700 block of Covington Drive in Ann Arbor. Police said Wade stabbed Mason multiple times while he slept and then returned hours later when she thought she saw him moving and continued the attack. Mason was 86 years old.

She’s been declared competent to stand trial, but family members said she has a past history of drug abuse and schizophrenia.

Wade was in court for a final pretrial hearing Tuesday, which was adjourned for one week. Her trial is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. June 3.

The document filed by the public defender’s office shows Margolis will be called to testify about his report. Dr. Henry Emerle, senior psychiatric resident at U-M, may also be called to testify about “observations made or conversations had during the course of Dr. Margolis’s evaluation,” according to court records.

Wade is facing life in prison if she is convicted on one charge of open murder. She’s being held in 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.



Fri, May 10, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Thanks for the response, Kyle. I'm not objecting to a newspaper posting mugshots, but am asking whether repeatedly doing so is appropriate in this case. Stories about Ms. Wade indicate that may be quite troubled, and appears to suffer from severe and chronic mental illness. Under these circumstances, is it necessary - and ethical - to repeatedly post her photo? If is going to keep running this photo, I'd ask that you consider doing away with the comments section on those articles. 80-90% of them are offensive and get blocked anyway. What's the point of providing a public forum for people to say such awful things?

Kyle Mattson

Fri, May 10, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

Hi Northside- Thanks for your feedback. We'll consider such in the future.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

Whole Dude - Whole Disclosure : It is understandable that I am not a juror or a prosecutor in this case. The selection of jury has not commenced. I am stating that disclosure of private and confidential medical information is required under certain circumstances. I spoke about infectious diseases as it is easy to understand the reason and the purpose of the disclosure. Mental illness which involves psychoses( where contact with reality is usually impaired ) must be disclosed to all family members to warn them and also to enlist their support for the clinical management of the patient. If the patient is not admitted to an institution, it becomes the responsibility of relatives and family members to participate in the therapy by helping the patient to use medication as recommended and to escort the patient during office visits. In this particular case, a family member is killed. Hence, it must be ascertained if a proper disclosure is made in the past and proper instructions were issued to safeguard the interests of the patient and the family members. The opinion of Dr. Philip Margolis is irrelevant to this case. However, the opinion of a psychiatrist who had actually treated and managed her clinical condition could be used to claim that she is now not competent to stand trial.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 3:17 a.m.

I hold no ill-will. I think for the most part, your comments are on point in terms of positivity and philosophical prose.

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, May 9, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

For those asking about Ms. Wade's photo - On nearly every story about someone who is charged with a crime with no mugshot, we have comments asking us where the mugshot is or asking why we haven't published the person's mugshot. Oftentimes, on other stories, I'll have folks asking me to post the mugshot when it becomes available. This is a part of what we do regularly at and this happens to be the only mugshot in the case.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

Exactly Kyle! Can't please everyone!


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 11:07 a.m.

I'll second David Briegel's comment about repeated running of the photo. Doing so is sensationalistic, thoughtless, and always elicits a large number of offensive comments.

David Briegel

Thu, May 9, 2013 : 3:59 a.m.

I think it is outrageous that Ann continues to run this photo of this poor soul. Enough already!


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

Thanks, David, My thoughts exactly.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 3:09 a.m.

Whole Dude - Whole Confidence: I am pleased to read that she is able to hire attorneys and could enlist the support of a Psychiatrist to challenge the opinion given by the State's Forensic Center. I would not really expect an insane person to rationally understand the charges and demand legal support and ask for a second opinion. Has she consented for this action? Certain medical conditions and illnesses must be publicly disclosed as the rule of medical confidentiality is injurious to the health and well-being of others who may come into contact with the sick person. All infectious diseases are required to be notified to Public Health and restrictions on employment would be placed as needed. The physician who had treated her in the past for her psychiatric illness must have taken action to discuss her problem with her social contacts and relatives and must have given them the chance to ascertain any dangers or risks posed by the illness. If it was not done, I will not support the claim of insanity to avoid prosecution.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 6:02 a.m.

#1- Public Defenders (at least from my understanding) are offered free of charge to those who cannot afford an attorney. #2- Psychiatry (to my knowledge) only requires that a practitioner disclose when a patient offers serious and/or grave threat to themselves or others. #3- Mental illnesses are not infectious diseases. #4- Unless you are a juror on this case, it doesn't really matter whether you support that claim or not.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 12:30 a.m.

So her attorneys will argue that she was insane? Exactly who will be taking up the other side of that argument?


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

The law states she is entitled to a an attorney to represent her. This started after Miranda come into being around 1965. Miranda law. Right to an attorney. Otherwise, she would never be able to afford an attorney up until that year. So it is the defense vs prosecutor.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 1:20 a.m.

The prosecutor, I presume.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 11:43 p.m.

Here picture is a shocker. Wow. I wish her luck sounds like she is going to need it.

music to my ear

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

well if that be the case she needs help.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

Isn't there a "Guilty but Insane" defense that would insure she receives medical and psychiatric help while in prison, and also be separated from regular prisoners?


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 1:38 a.m.


Michigan Reader

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 9:42 p.m.

There's no "guilty but insane" defense strategy; I think you are trying to refer to the verdict (a finding by the jury or judge) of "guilty but mentally ill."


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

One would hope, in cases where someone is found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity but has killed someone, that they would then be held in a psychiatric facility until they're actually safe to re-release. However, Michigan has closed almost all of its psychiatric hospitals. Kyle, how would this hypothetically work?

John of Saline

Thu, May 9, 2013 : 2:32 a.m.

Yep, it's on Platt at Bemis Road. Looks like a nice place from a distance, but the 20-foot fences that are canted inward are a clue that there are folks in there that aren't allowed to leave.

Kyle Feldscher

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

If found not guilty by reason of insanity, she would be sent to the Center of Forensic Psychiatry. This is a 210-bed facility that treats patients and also does diagnostic work for the criminal justice system. Here's the link to their page:,1607,7-132-2941_4868_4896-14465--,00.html