12:04 PM EST, December 12, 2012
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A convicted killer on trial for the 2002 slaying of an elderly man in Fort Wayne told officers that he saw moving shadows, demonic faces in the wood grain of floors and had the ability to read people's minds, according to audio and videotapes played for jurors.
Joseph Kast, 35, is charged with murder in the fatal stabbing of Claude Berkshire, 85, in Berkshire's garage. Testimony Tuesday in Allen County Court focused on Kast's mental state.
Kast mixed his recollection of details about the slaying with bizarre claims and admissions, The Journal Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/SV3ql0 ). On the tape, he told the investigator that he sometimes would convert numbers from license plates into phone numbers and dial them, the ask people who answered what they wanted.
Nine days after prosecutors say he killed Berkshire, Kast killed Huntington County Building Inspector Earl Bowman when he stopped by a construction site where Kast was working. Kast pleaded found guilty but mentally ill in Bowman's death and was serving a 55-year prison sentence when he allegedly confessed to killing Berkshire in 2010.
His second murder trial was delayed for several months after Judge John Surbeck ruled that he was incompetent to stand trial. Surbeck ordered Kast into a mental hospital in 2011, but the hospital refused to accept him until he served the previous murder sentence.
But in July, mental health experts said that Kast was able to assist in his own defense despite his mental illness.
Surbeck then ordered Kast to stand trial, saying that while his beliefs may seem strange, that is not necessarily a mental defect.
The trial is expected to last a week.