Prosecutors say son used sword to kill his parents in Sebastopol home
A Sebastopol man accused of a deadly attack on his parents used a sword to kill the couple Monday at the family's rural west Sonoma County home, according to a complaint prosecutors filed Wednesday charging Nathan Wilson with murder.
Wilson, 34, closed his eyes at times during his first court appearance. He was seated and restrained in a wheelchair, as two rows of family members huddled together across the courtroom, some in tears.
The hearing took place two days after the bodies of David Wilson, 66, and Adrianne Chapin, 60, were found at their Sexton Road home by a family member, who also saw Wilson on the property covered in blood, investigators said.
Judge Shelly Averill on Wednesday granted Public Defender Kristine Burk's request to allow Wilson to delay entering a plea until Dec. 7.
Wilson's family members declined to comment outside the courtroom.
In a brief statement, their first in the wake of the slayings, they said that the deaths of David Wilson and Chapin 'leave behind a massive hole in both their family and their community.'
Chapin and David Wilson 'struggled for years to help their son, Nathan, with his mental health issues,' the family members said. 'The family asks that focus is brought to mental health awareness.'
Wilson experienced delusions, anger and displayed other possible signs of mental illness through the years, friends of the family have said.
Investigators have not given a suspected motive in the case. Sheriff's officials have declined to discuss what's known about his mental health condition.
David Wilson was an independent contractor who built custom homes and Chapin was a homemaker, dancer and painter who was a committed member of several women's spiritual groups. Avid outdoor enthusiasts, the couple have two other children, Zack and Alexis Wilson.
Nathan Wilson was their oldest child.
David Wilson's brother found the bodies Monday and called 911, immediately alerting sheriff's dispatchers that Wilson had mental health issues, Burk said.
Nathan Wilson was gone when deputies arrived, launching a daylong search for him before he was apprehended in Mendocino County.
A law enforcement officer who arrested Wilson in Ukiah said in a report that when he tracked him down near a lumber store, Wilson identified himself as 'Nate Wilson' and handed over his driver's license, according to Burk. The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office previously said in a news release that Wilson lied about his name to Ukiah police.
The Ukiah police chief could not immediately be reached Wednesday to clarify.
Appointed to represent Wilson on Wednesday, Burk said she will begin the process of evaluating whether he seems mentally competent to participate in the court process and stand trial. Prosecutors handed a copy of the complaint and initial investigation reports to Burk at the hearing.
Burk said she briefly visited Wilson at the jail prior to the hearing, but was not yet prepared to discuss her impressions of his state of mind.
Criminal proceedings could be temporarily suspended if the judge orders a psychiatric evaluation.
Nikki Buckstead, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Sonoma County, said she hoped the case will bring awareness to 'the stigma surrounding mental illness — where people often feel isolated and families feel embarrassed or ashamed. This often stops individuals from seeking help. Either for themselves or their loved ones.'
Buckstead said that while one in five Americans will experience a serious mental health issue at some point in their lives, only three-to-five percent of violent acts are committed by a person with serious mental illness.
You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jjpressdem.