Original article no longer available
The Denver Post
By The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 04/17/2008 10:47:40 PM MDT
BOULDER A man who killed his adoptive mother and grandmother with a hammer and knife was ordered released from prison despite objections from his adoptive father who survived the attack.
John Engel, 22, was placed in lifetime probation Thursday and sent to Boulder County Jail after having served seven years in juvenile prison. He’ll be transferred to a halfway house where he’ll begin serving a 32-year adult sentence, District Judge Carol Glowinsky ordered.
Another hearing within six weeks will spell out details of his sentence.
Engel pleaded guilty in December 2001 to first-degree murder as a juvenile and second-degree murder as an adult in the slayings of Mary Elizabeth Reinschmidt-Engel, and her mother, Catherine Reinschmidt, in the family’s Longmont home in 1999.
As part of a plea deal, Engel was given a seven-year sentence in the Division of Youth Corrections for the slaying of his mother. He also was sentenced to serve 32 years in prison for killing his grandmother a sentence that began when he turned 21 in 2006.
A psychiatrist testified that Engel was mentally ill at the time of the slayings, and thought he was possessed by the devil. Engel is now taking medication to control his illness.
“I don’t trust my son,” Tom Engel told the court Thursday.
“He has demonstrated he can deceive everyone around him while planning to act out anger at an opportune time.” Tom Engel suffered a head injury when his son, then 14, attacked him with a hammer as the elder Engel returned from a jog and came upon the scene. Tom Engel overpowered the youth.
“They’ve called him an intelligent, self-sufficient young man,” Tom Engel said. “Yet we’ve used the same words. The unpredictability of John’s behavior, medicated or not, has brought us to this place.”
John Hardy, a Pueblo psychiatrist, testified that Engel, as a child, had been mistreated with antidepressants for bipolar disorder.
“He thought that by killing them, he would send himself to hell and release them to heaven,” Hardy said. “There’s no evidence, at any time, that he poses a realistic danger to anyone in the community.”
Hardy, prosecutors, and a probation officer supported Engel’s early release, but Longmont police Sgt. Tim Lewis spoke in opposition.
“There has to be some accountability in communities for crimes of this magnitude,” he said. “We don’t want’ to see the bar set so low for a crime of this magnitude.”
Engel said he would like to go to school to study math and music, eventually working with people in the criminal justice system. He expressed remorse.
“How do you say you’re sorry?” he said. “All I know is that I’m sorry and that I will spend the rest of my life trying to make amends. …
“I’m a stronger and better person because of what I’ve learned over the past eight years. Regardless of today’s decision, I will continue to grow.”