Zebulon beheading case likely to hinge on mental health of accused, attorney says

Oliver Mauricio Funes-Machado on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. (CBS North Carolina)

ZEBULON, N.C. (WNCN) — The attorney of the 18-year-old accused of beheading his own mother near Zebulon this week said that his client’s mental health will be crucial to the criminal case.

His client, 18-year-old Oliver Funes-Machado, told a dispatcher he had killed his mother because he “felt like it,” according to a statement made by an investigator seeking a search warrant.

RELATED: Warrant: Zebulon beheading suspect said he killed mom ‘because I felt like it’

“It’s not necessarily an admission of guilt,” his attorney, Boyd Sturges, said. “It’s allegedly a statement that he did it. But certainly his mental state at the time will be highly relevant as to what the ultimate disposition what of the case is — if he’s found guilty or some other disposition.”


Funes-Machado remains in Central Prison, where he was transferred from the Franklin County Detention Complex. His attorney said the prison has better facilities to deal with his client’s issues and to evaluate his mental health.

“Quite frankly, in a situation like this, Central Prison has a better situation for my client than the local jail has to offer,” Sturges said.

Search warrants show that deputies found four medications labeled as being for the suspect on a bedroom dresser.

His lawyer said everyone involved in the case needs to know if Funes-Machado has mental health issues.

“As the DA and the sheriff have said clearly we are looking to see what his mental condition is going forward,” Sturges said.

RELATED: Teen charged with murder after mother decapitated near Zebulon, officials say

He also said, “Clearly, this is an unusual case, and we’re going to have to look and see what role his mental condition at the time of the death is going to be.”

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