Judge declares man charged with daughter's killing unfit for trial

2010-01-25T12:35:00Z Judge declares man charged with daughter's killing unfit for trialBy Edith Brady-Lunny | eblunny@pantagraph.com pantagraph.com

BLOOMINGTON -- A Bloomington man accused of killing his 14-month-old daughter showed signs of mental illness and frequently heard voices, his mother said Monday after a judge declared him unfit to stand trial.

Erika Meece was found inside the home of her father, Jeff Meece, on Aug. 20 with serious head injuries after police were called to the 600 block of South Madison Street for reports of a man swinging a baseball bat. The child died in a Peoria hospital the following day.

Reports from two psychiatrists indicated Meece is unfit to stand trial on first-degree murder charges, Public Defender Amy Davis told Judge Robert Freitag. The 47-year-old defendant will be taken to McFarland Mental Health Center in Springfield.

With inpatient treatment, Meece may be restored to fitness within a year, the judge said after reviewing the doctor's recommendations.

Shirley Meece told The Pantagraph that her son has had ongoing mental health problems.

"He was hearing voices for five or six years. Sometimes it was so bad he had to put his hands over his ears," she said.

Meece said she did not know why her son may have committed the actions described in murder charges.

"I don't know why. It never once dawned on me that it would come to this," said Meece's mother, who was living with her son at the time of the incident.

Shirley Meece supports her son's transfer to a mental health facility.

"I think it could help him a lot if he sees the doctors and they can figure out the right medication for him," she said.

According to a statement read in court by prosecutors in August, Meece said repeatedly, "I killed my baby," when he was questioned by police. He also made statements that others had killed the child with a bat, said prosecutors.

Meece will be returned to court May 3 to review the status of his treatment.

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