Accused Texas family killer collapses in court as details of murder read
HOUSTON (Reuters) - The man accused of fatally shooting four children aged 4 to 14 and their parents after entering their suburban Houston home while looking for his former wife collapsed when details of the murder scene were read in court on Friday.
Ronald Lee Haskell, 33, who is being held without bond, was in court for a procedural hearing after being charged on Thursday with capital murder and multiple murders of the relatives of his former wife. Capital murder can bring the death penalty in Texas.
Haskell, dressed in orange prison attire, said "Yes, sir" after his rights were read and then collapsed as details of the crime were listed. Bailiffs had to pick him up and wheel him out in an office chair.
Haskell is accused of killing two boys ages 4 and 14, two girls ages 7 and 9, and their parents Stephen Stay, 39, and Katie Stay, 33. Five of them were found dead and one of the children died after being flown to a hospital for treatment. A 15-year-old daughter survived the attack, the Harris County Sheriff's Office said.
On Friday, a lawyer for Haskell said his client suffers from mental illness.
A neighbor previously told Reuters that Haskell was angry at the family for facilitating in the divorce.
Authorities have said he went to the Stay home looking for his former wife and held the children at gunpoint until their parents returned. He then brought all seven family members into a room and shot them, killing all except the teenage girl, police said.
The suspect's former wife did not live at the house and was not harmed in the incident.
Haskell and his then-wife lived in Logan, Utah, from 2006 to 2013, local police have said. Authorities there once arrested him for domestic assault and violence, but the charges were dropped after he accepted a plea deal, according to police.
FedEx has said that Haskell was once employed by a contractor used by the shipping company but had not worked for that company since January.