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Mar 12, 2009
A 4th Judicial District judge Thursday found there is enough evidence to try a 36-year-old man for first- and second-degree murder in the stabbing death of his father, a Colorado Springs surgeon, on Nov. 20, 2008.
Immediately after the ruling, attorney Ed Farry entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for his client, Sean Fitzgerald.
Judge David Gilbert then ordered a sanity evaluation of Fitzgerald by doctors at the state hospital in Pueblo.
Dr. Edward Fitzgerald, 63, was found dead in the bedroom of his home on Lindenrose Grove at about 2:20 a.m. The El Paso County coroner determined he died from one of two stab wounds.
Colorado Springs homicide detective Mike Happe testified that Sean Fitzgerald told him after the stabbing, “There’s no point, I did it. I killed my own father in front of my mother.”
Happe said Fitzgerald later said, “I was convinced he was Satan. I’ve never had those thoughts before. …”
Testimony during the hearing revealed Sean Fitzgerald had been struck by a truck while bicycling in a village in Thailand a couple weeks before the killing and had been flown to a hospital in Bangkok with head injuries. Just days before the killing, his mother, Kim, and father had traveled to Thailand to bring their son back.
Sean’s wife, Allison, told family members her husband “was in his own world” after the accident.
The day before the killing, the Fitzgeralds took their son to a local neurosurgeon and said Sean was having both paranoid and suicidal thoughts. The doctor told the family it could be at least six months before Sean recovered from his head trauma. He then prescribed drugs for depression and sleep.
That day, Edward Fitzgerald tried to convince his son his thoughts that the government was out to get him were just delusions, and Sean didn’t argue, according to testimony by detectives.
That evening, Sean’s mother gave him one tablet of Ambien for sleep and one tablet of Lexapro for depression. The family then went to sleep, with Sean staying in a spare bedroom near his parents’ master bedroom.
Kim Fitzgerald told police that shortly after 2 a.m., her son came quickly into their bedroom with a knife raised in his hand. He went straight to his sleeping father, straddled him with his knees and stabbed him twice, once in the chest and once in the abdomen, even as she pleaded for him to stop and tried to push him away.
Later in the morning, as tests were being done on Sean Fitzgerald at Memorial Hospital, a police detective told him a lawyer retained by his sister was waiting outside the room.
Fitzgerald, recalled police detective Wayne Bichel, then said, “That’s ridiculous. I just killed my father and my sister hired an attorney for me.”
After Thursday’s hearing, Sean Fitzgerald’s sister, Alison Andrews, told The Gazette, “My dad went halfway around the world to bring him home and make sure he got well. And we want to make sure that happens.”
A review of the evaluation of Fitzgerald’s sanity is scheduled for May 12. If a jury should find Fitzgerald not guilty by reason of insanity, he would be held at the state hospital until doctors determined he was sane.
Note: Some time after 2009, the above article was altered and the names of the drugs removed and replaced with the term “his medication”. – SSRI Ed