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Willard boy pleads insanity to attempted murder charge

Jessica Cuffman • Dec 21, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Michael Mason, 17, faces attempted murder and gun specification charges as an adult for the May 30 incident.

He appeared in Huron County Common Pleas Court shackled and sporting a beard, his hair longer than when he was arrested.

Mason wore an Adidas jacket over a blue shirt, but orange jail pants.

His mother, Melissa Mason, was emotional as she sat in the courtroom waiting for Judge James Conway to take the bench.

Mason's attorney, Huron County public defender David Longo, asked the court to order a psychological evaluation as is required when a defendant enters an insanity plea to criminal charges.

But Huron County prosecutor Russ Leffler protested, citing two other mental health evaluations Mason underwent before his case was transferred from juvenile to adult court in November.

"His appearance in court seems to be quite sane," Leffler said.

A video interview Mason gave with Willard police after his arrest also seems to show someone without mental health issues, he said.

"There's nothing on that video that indicates an individual that's insane or not dealing with reality," Leffler said. "This appears to be a delaying tactic."

The psychological evaluations Mason had before were in regard to his competency — his ability to understand court proceedings and to aid his attorney in his defense, Longo said.

"This goes to his mental state at the time of the alleged offense," he said. "It's substantially different."

The seriousness of the first-degree felony charge that could land Mason in prison for up to a decade was another factor in favor of the additional exam, Longo said.

"We require more thoroughness than if we were here on an F3 or F4," he said.

Conway agreed and ordered Mason to undergo an evaluation with the District 5 Forensic and Diagnostic Center in Mansfield.

Though Mason's case was set to go to trial in January, the court will have to allow for an additional 30 days for a doctor to write a report after evaluating Mason.

The boy shot his mother on May 30 when they were at their Willard home, then ran to a friend's house in the 500 block of West Pearl Street.

Scores of law enforcement officers launched a two-hour manhunt after Mason's mother called 911 for help.

She was flown to a Toledo hospital for treatment, and police eventually tracked down Mason at the Pearl Street house.

Officials said Mason's mother homeschooled him after he'd been kicked out of Willard Schools.

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