OTTAWA — A judge ruled Wednesday a woman who attacked a retired 84-year-old priest with a hammer was not guilty by reason of insanity.
Judge Randall Basinger ruled the prosecutor proved the charges of attempted murder and felonious assault but at the time of the crime Wilhelm did not know the wrongfulness of her acts as a result of a severe mental disease or defect which was diagnosed as delusional and psychotic.
Basinger based his ruling off an evaluation by Dr. Thomas Sherman of the Court Diagnostic and Treatment who performed a psychological exam on Wilhelm.
Basinger ordered another evaluation to help him determine the appropriate way to treat Wilhelm. There are a variety of options depending on the results of the evaluation. The options could range from outpatient treatment to a commitment to a mental health facility.
Assistant Putnam County Prosecutor Todd Schroeder said the evaluation is to determine the least restrictive treatment setting the law allows. Schroeder said he anticipates Wilhelm will be placed in a facility.
Findings of not guilty by reason of insanity are rare. Schroeder said it’s the first time he has had such a case despite defense attorneys sometimes entering the plea at arraignment only to have mental health evaluations show otherwise.
Wilhelm, 66, will remain in custody. The next hearing in the case was scheduled for March 23.
Wilhelm attacked the Rev. Herman Scherger, of Cloverdale, at his house on Sept. 5. She walked up to his car as he was getting out and began hitting him in the head with a hammer.
During the trial, Wilhelm testified in her own defense trying to say Scherger attacked her. She said she drove to his house that day to confront him over holes pounded in the door of her home, cat litter put in her toilet, and the appearance that someone had been lying on her bed, all of which she believed was done by Scherger.
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.