A man who was sent to a psychiatric hospital after he decapitated his 5-year-old son eight years ago will be released, with doctors saying he did not act out of malice and that he was experiencing a psychotic break at the time of the killing, People magazine reported.
In February 2009, Joshua Hagerman was putting away his toys when his father, Joseph Hagerman II, attacked him with a serrated kitchen knife. As the boy’s mother tried to stop him, Joseph Hagerman successfully beheaded his son while telling him to give his life to Jesus.
Both the prosecution and defense during Hagerman’s trial agreed that he had killed his son, and that Hagerman, who has schizophrenia, was insane at the time of his son’s death. At the time, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and committed to a mental health hospital.
Hagerman had reportedly told police he killed Joshua to prevent the Antichrist from torturing Joshua. His wife also said that he had stopped taking his psychiatric medication and that he had begun praying and reading the Bible obsessively.
Prosecutors opposed his release. “We can’t brush aside the complete, brutal, gruesome murder that took place,” Prosecutor Colin Stolle told the court while Hagerman’s release was being contemplated. “We’re here to ensure public safety.”
Still, Circuit Judge A. Bonwill Shockley ruled that Hagerman must be released, whereupon he must stay at an adult foster care facility during the week and at his parents’ house on weekends.
He also must take his medications and meet with a case manager weekly and a psychiatrist monthly.
“We’re just happy that it’s over with and that he’s been given a second chance,” said Hagerman’s sister, Maria Teresa Lancaster, to the Virginia Pilot. “My brother didn’t do it out of malice. He’s mentally ill. When he’s medicated, he’s fine and stable.”
[Image: Virginia Beach Police]