WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The fate of a man accused of stabbing and beating another man to death with a hammer nearly 10 years ago is now in the hands of a judge.
Closing arguments were made Friday in the bench trial of 37-year-old Michael Soares.
Soares is accused of killing 66-year-old John “Jack” Fay at Warwick City Park in May 2013. The retired postal worker and Vietnam veteran had gone out for a jog when he was attacked. His body was found stuffed in a barrel the following day, and police also located a knife and a small sledgehammer nearby.
Both the prosecution and defense agree there’s evidence that Soares committed the murder, but the judge must now determine whether or not he’s culpable due to his mental state at the time.
The defense claims Soares was mentally unwell and only attacked Fay out of fear for his own life, believing he was in danger.
“The law says a person is not criminally responsible for criminal conduct if at time of such conduct as a result of mental disease or defect,” Soares’ lawyer said.
A forensic psychology expert who’s interviewed Soares twice was called by the state to testify on Friday. He said he believes Soares should be in a psychiatric hospital for life.
The state argued that while Soares may suffer from schizophrenia, he was calculated in committing the attack. Prosecutors said he not only covered up the body, but purchase records from Walmart also show he bought a hammer two months prior to the attack and a knife that same day. He also attempted to leave the country two days later.
“He had the presence of mind to know to get out of there,” prosecutor Dan Healy said. “So he’s covered up the crime, he’s committed it in this location in the middle of the night, and the majority of the evidence is this defendant’s statements.”
The victim’s daughter, Meghan Fay, said she believes there are deficiencies in state law regarding the burden to prove not guilty by reason of insanity.
“This guy is extremely dangerous and he should never be out in society,” she said. “I do feel that he knows the difference of right and wrong and that he did take extensive steps for pre-planning what he did.”
The judge said he will announce his decision on Friday, Jan. 27.