- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A man accused of fatally stabbing his father, the state’s former labor commissioner, suffers from paranoid delusions and is mentally incompetent to stand trial for first-degree murder, a psychiatrist wrote in a report released Wednesday.

An Oklahoma County judge did not make a determination on Christian Costello’s competency but ordered him returned to a state mental hospital to be examined by another psychiatrist hired by prosecutors.

Costello, 27, delivered a rambling minute-long diatribe during the hearing in which he admitted killing his father, former Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, saying he was a “hit man” and that he was ordered to kill his father as part of a “military operation.”

Prosecutors allege Costello attacked his father with a knife and repeatedly stabbed him at a fast-food restaurant in Oklahoma City in August 2015. Witnesses said the attack continued after Mark Costello ran into the parking lot where his wife, Cathy Costello, tried to intervene.

According to a 37-page report by Dr. Jason Beaman, the chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Oklahoma State University, Christian Costello has a long history of mental health issues and suffers from schizoaffective disorder, a mental illness characterized by symptoms including hallucinations, delusions, mania and depression.

“It is my opinion … that the defendant has the ability to appreciate the nature of the charges filed against him but he does not have the ability to consult with his attorney and rationally assist in the preparation of his defense,” Beaman wrote.

Beaman indicated that he believes Costello could attain competency if provided with a course of treatment, therapy or training.

Judge Ray Elliott in May ordered state psychiatrists to examine Costello to determine whether he understands the accusations against him and can assist his attorney in his defense.

Costello’s attorney, Oklahoma County’s Chief Public Defender Bob Ravitz, said he believes his client was legally insane when the attack occurred.

“Mr. Costello clearly … suffers from unbelievable psychotic episodes and psychosis,” Ravitz said outside the courtroom. “I think that’s just the way he is, and I don’t think he knew what he was doing when he killed his father.”

District Attorney David Prater said he wants to hire his own expert to evaluate Costello. The judge ordered Costello returned to the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita and scheduled another competency hearing for Oct. 12.

Under Oklahoma law, a judge can suspend criminal proceedings so someone can receive treatment and achieve competency. For defendants who are determined to have regained competency, criminal proceedings may resume. Those who are found to continue to be incompetent can be committed to a mental health facility.


Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

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