Ronald Lee Haskell
The man accused of killing 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 crime
were read aloud in court.
Ronald Lee Haskell, 33, who is being held without bond, was
in court for a hearing after being charged on Thursday (local
time) with capital murder and multiple murders of his former
Haskell, who suffers from mental illness according to his
attorney, was expected to face a hearing on his mental
capacity and will eventually face a grand jury that will
decide whether he will be tried for capital murder, which
carries the possibility of the death penalty.
Haskell, wearing orange prison attire, said "Yes, sir" to the
judge after his rights were read and then fainted as details
of the crime were read. Bailiffs had to pick him up and wheel
him out in an office chair.
Haskell is accused of fatally shooting 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 dead when found and
one of the children died after being air-lifted to a hospital
Cassidy Stay, 15, survived the attack on Wednesday afternoon,
the Harris County Sheriff's Office said.
Harris County prosecutor Tammy Thomas told the judge that
Haskell methodically executed the family, tying them up and
then firing two bullets into each of them, starting with the
Haskell, posing as a delivery man, entered the home when
Cassidy told him to wait while she got a pen to take down his
name and number, Thomas said.
The teen did not recognize her uncle, who had grown a beard
in recent months, until after Haskell told her his name,
Thomas testified. He then pulled a gun and ordered her to
assemble the other children in the living room before tying
them up as they lay on the floor, Thomas added.
Their parents were confronted when they returned from a trip
to the bank, according to the prosecution.
When the family was together in one room, Haskell began to
shoot them in a brazen attack that showed elements of
planning, said Thomas, who appeared distraught after reading
details of the crime to the court.
"Maybe reality is finally settling in," she told reporters
afterwards when asked what prompted Haskell to collapse.
"It makes no difference to me if he understands how much
trouble he is in. We'll get a jury to do that for him."
Doug Durham, Haskell's public defender, said his client had
been in and out of hospitals in Utah and California with a
history of mental illness and that he was not taking
prescribed medication at the time of the murders.
"The evidence will show he was suffering from a mental
illness at the time of this incident," said Durham.
A neighbor previously told Reuters that Haskell was angry
with the family for facilitating the divorce.
The suspect's former wife did not live at the house and was
not harmed in the incident.
Cassidy Stay, left for dead, called police and alerted them
to the shootings and said that Haskell was on his way to the
home of more of his former wife's relatives. Police
intercepted him before he got to the home.
Cassidy is expected to make a full recovery from a gunshot
wound to the head, her relatives said in a statement.