A Phoenix man who decapitated his wife and their two dogs while high on drugs tearfully expressed remorse Friday, as a judge sentenced him to nearly three decades in prison.
Shaking and crying in his orange jail uniform, Kenneth Dale Wakefield, 46, issued an apology in Maricopa County Superior Court.
"I just wanted to say I'm sorry. I deeply apologize for what I did," Wakefield said, who described his deceased wife as his "best friend." "I can't change it. I suffer also."
Judge Ronda Fisk said she believed Wakefield was sincerely remorseful but considering the "heinous, cruel manner" of the case, she would follow the recommendation of his plea agreement for a 29-year sentence. Wakefield pleaded guilty in February to second-degree murder and two animal cruelty charges.
Wakefield must immediately begin serving 25 years for the July 2015 death of 49-year-old Trina Heisch and consecutive two-year sentences for each dog's death.
Heisch's mother, Peggy Stowe, also spoke during the hearing. She described how her daughter used to love gymnastics, playing the saxophone, writing poetry and painting. Though she had her share of problems, she was always there for others, Stowe said.
"There's a hole in my heart. It's never going to go away," Stowe said. "I still have a hard time when I tell people how many kids I have."
Wakefield and Heisch met while they were each serving 10-year sentences in a state mental hospital for stabbing relatives. Both were found to be "guilty, except insane" on attempted murder charges.
He told investigators he stabbed Heisch during a fight that erupted in their central Phoenix apartment after he decapitated one of the couple's two dogs. He later killed the second dog. Police were alerted to the killings after a neighbor went over to check on the couple.
Wakefield was high on synthetic marijuana and methamphetamine on the day of the attack and told police he was "doing it for God and the end of the world to be peaceful," according to police reports.
Wakefield also mutilated himself during the attack, pulling out one of his eyes and cutting off his left forearm.
At the time of the attack, Wakefield had been recently released from the state mental hospital after a psychiatric review board said it believed his mental health problems were in remission and he wasn't dangerous if he lived in a residential treatment program.
The board later asked prosecutors to keep him committed at the hospital, but prosecutors say they were unsuccessful in trying to extend his stay, so Wakefield was released.
Wakefield's attorney pursued an insanity defense in the case stemming from Heisch's death, but it's unclear what became of the strategy. A judge ordered most of the court records on the strategy to be sealed off from public view.