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Man accused of goat crimes pleads not guilty because of mental illness

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - An Alum Creek man believed to have sodomized and killed a neighbor's goat has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness.

Mark Lucas Thompson, 20, of Greenview Road, has also been declared not criminally responsible for the acts he committed. Kanawha Circuit Judge James Stucky accepted that finding, and the plea, and sent Thompson to William Sharpe Mental Hospital for further treatment.

Assistant Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach said that after Thompson's evaluation at that facility, he was sent back to South Central Regional Jail, where he is currently being held.

"He's been subjected to some harassment at the jail," Giggenbach said. He requested that his transfer back to the Weston hospital be expedited for that reason.

At the time of the incident with the goat, in May 2011, Thompson was found in his bedroom with the dead goat and wearing women's underwear. Police said the goat had been stabbed.

The pygmy goat belonged to Thompson's neighbor, a woman who bought the animal as a pet for her grandson. Another neighbor alerted her that the goat was at Thompson's home, and she went to find it.

She discovered the grisly scene, and Thompson fled into the woods near his house. He was later apprehended by police, and he told them he had been using bath salts.

But Thompson's mental health has been debated in court since then. The judge ordered him evaluated for competency to stand trial. A psychiatric examination found that he was competent, but his attorney continued to contend that Thompson had no understanding of the charges or the trial process.

Giggenbach said Monday, "I'm convinced the defendant committed these crimes, but I'm convinced he suffers from serious mental disease or defect.

"He needs mental health treatment, and in fairness a regional jail is not the place for him," Giggenbach said.

Thompson will spend the same time in treatment at the mental facility as the maximum time to which he could have been sentenced. He will receive credit for the time already in state custody, but is not eligible to cut his time in half with good behavior.

John Carr, his attorney, said, "It is hoped, with the court's order, that he can be placed in a least restrictive environment and his issues can be dealt with appropriately."

Thompson's mental status will be reviewed annually to determine the best possible placement for him. The judge will receive those reports.

Thompson didn't speak at the hearing, except to turn and converse with family members seated behind him.

"I love you, Mom," he said. "I'm sorry."

Thompson had been indicted by a grand jury on two charges of animal cruelty and petit larceny.

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at or 304-348-4832.


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