A father who was convicted of decapitating his five-year-old son was granted a provisional release from a psychiatric hospital after only eight years in custody.
Joseph Hagerman, 43, was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 2009 decapitation death of his young son, and committed to psychiatric treatment. According to The Virginian-Pilot, a judge ruled on Monday that Hagerman, a diagnosed schizophrenic, was fit to be released from Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia, as early as Wednesday.
A condition of Hagerman’s release is that he will be required to live in an adult foster care facility during the week and at his parents’ home on the weekends.
Hagerman killed his son, also named Joseph Hagerman, with a serated kitchen knife in February 2009. According to the Virginian-Pilot, Hagerman attacked his son out of nowhere as the little boy was putting his toys away, and injured his wife as she tried to intervene.
At the time of the murder, Hagerman had reportedly stopped taking his medications and had been obsessively reading the Bible. He later told police that he killed his son in order to spare him from being corrupted by the “Antichrist.”
According to the newspaper, Hagerman’s wife, Shirley Hagerman, told police that her husband told their son over and over again to “give his life to Jesus” as he was taking the little boy’s life.
At the hearing on Monday, prosecutors objected to Hagerman’s release.
“We can’t brush aside the complete, brutal, gruesome murder that took place,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle reportedly said. “We’re here to ensure public safety.”
But a mental health expert who works at the psychiatric facility vouched for Hagerman, describing him as a “model patient.”
“We’ve had absolutely no issues with Mr. Hagerman,” Maria Burke reportedly said.
Hagerman’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Annette Miller, reportedly assured the court that Hagerman’s release would be highly controlled and supervised.
“There are always going to be eyes on him,” Miller said. “He is never going to be alone.”