A 21-year-old Montezuma County man who confessed to decapitating his father and dismembering the body is competent to stand trial, according to a psychiatric evaluation.
Jeremiah R. Berry has been at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo since July for a determination of his state of mind. Keith Mandelski, chief deputy 22nd Judicial District attorney, said Monday the medical decision is that Berry is "not legally insane and (is) competent enough to stand trial."
"It's a medical finding, and one additional piece of evidence," said Mandelski.
In July, Berry pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity on the second-degree murder charge.
He was charged in April with second-degree murder of his father, Jack Berry, 42, after telling Montezuma County Sheriff's Office detectives he shot his father in the back of the head after he was raped by the man, then decapitated and dismembered the body and fed flesh to coyotes, according to court documents.
Mandelski said that the medical decision of Berry's mental state should have little or no impact on his not-guilty by insanity plea.
"The defense still has a right to prove that," Mandelski said. "It's still a question for the jury."
Public defender Pam Brown, Berry's defense attorney, could not be reached for comment.
A status hearing for Berry is set for Tuesday. He remains in Pueblo awaiting transport back to Cortez.
Berry told police he killed his father in a canyon south of the Dog Hotel, a dog kennel located at 33350 Colorado Highway 184, on or about Feb. 19. According to previous court testimony, county detectives found body parts - including a skull, hands and feet - thought to be those of Jack Berry within buckets hardened with cement in a storage room at the kennel.
During an April interview with sheriff's detectives, Berry said his father told him the day of the murder he had been told by God that his son needed a sex change to become his wife. He said his father later raped him.
After the rape, Berry said he shot his father in the back of the head while he was urinating. After that, he told police he stabbed the body 199 times and dismembered the body.
Jeremiah Berry told county police officials he disposed of a pistol, ax and knives used in the murder and for dismembering his father's body in the Animas River in Durango, according to court documents. Officials recovered buckets containing body parts April 29 at the Dog Hotel.
If found guilty by a jury, punishment for second-degree murder ranges from eight to 24 years in prison. With aggravating circumstances, a penalty can reach 48 years. A monetary penalty ranging from $5,000 to $1 million also can be administered.
Bond for Jeremiah Berry has been set at $500,000.