A man who was previously convicted for the brutal murder of his girlfriend has been declared not guilty on the grounds of mental illness, leading to his transfer from jail to a secure hospital.
Alexis Saborit, a 44-year-old man from Shakopee, was initially found guilty for the horrific murder of his girlfriend, America M. Thayer.
The crime, which took place two years ago, was particularly gruesome and shocking. Saborit beheaded Thayer and left her body on a busy street reported by Star Tribune.
This shocking act was witnessed by horrified onlookers on July 28, 2021, when Saborit first struck Thayer with an 8-pound dumbbell and then decapitated her with a machete at the intersection of 4th Avenue and Spencer Street. The brutality of the act sent shockwaves through the community, leaving many in disbelief and fear.
The recent ruling, made by Scott County District Judge Caroline Lennon, now paves the way for Saborit to be moved from jail and civilly committed indefinitely to a secure hospital run by the state Department of Human Services (DHS).
This decision was based on the findings of two doctors who interviewed Saborit and reviewed his psychological history and police records associated with the killing. The doctors' findings played a crucial role in the judge's decision, shedding light on Saborit's mental state and its potential influence on his actions.
According to Judge Lennon's order, Saborit has been experiencing "intermittent episodes of severe psychosis and some mania since at least 2018." His psychotic episodes have been characterized by agitation, pressured speech, insomnia, disorganized thinking, auditory hallucinations, and entrenched paranoid, somatic and/or bizarre delusions. These symptoms, while severe, were not immediately apparent to those around him, leading to a delay in diagnosis and treatment.
The prosecution's argument that Saborit might have been faking mental illness to avoid a life sentence in prison was dismissed by the judge. One of the examining doctors found little indication that Saborit was sophisticated enough to successfully feign disorganized thought processes and other symptoms of mental illness for an extended period. This finding was crucial in discrediting the prosecution's argument and further solidifying the defense's claim of Saborit's mental illness.
"Defendant's psychotic episodes have been characterized by agitation, pressured speech, insomnia, disorganized thinking, auditory hallucinations, and entrenched paranoid, somatic and/or bizarre delusions."
Saborit's symptoms of psychosis and his delusional beliefs continued for several weeks after his arrest, further supporting the conclusion that he was not pretending to be mentally ill. In the end, Lennon found that Saborit "was experiencing genuine symptoms of psychotic disorder on the date of the offense [and] was suffering from mental illness to the extent that it prevented him from understanding the moral wrongfulness of his actions during the alleged offense."
Saborit's conviction by Lennon followed a ruling that he was mentally competent to stand trial. The defense then challenged that finding, setting the stage for the judge's ruling on Monday. This back-and-forth between the defense and prosecution highlighted the complexities of the case and the challenges in determining the role of mental illness in criminal behavior.
Saborit and Thayer had been in a tumultuous relationship over 12 years. His criminal history in Minnesota includes a domestic assault conviction for attacking Thayer in 2017 and pinning her to the ground because he thought she had talked to another man at a bar. This history of violence and instability further complicated the case, raising questions about the role of domestic violence in the tragic outcome.
At the time of the attack, Saborit had a court hearing in Scott County on charges of setting fire to the couple's apartment during a confrontation with police in Shakopee. According to the charges, officers confronted Saborit on Nov. 9, 2020, after he had been at the Pullman Club and was smashing car windows outside with a baseball bat. At one point during that standoff with police, he brandished a machete, which he ultimately threw to the ground.
Friends said Thayer emigrated from Cuba and told them she attended high school in Minnetonka. Besides her son, who lives in the state, she had a sister in the southern United States. This information about Thayer's background added a personal touch to the case, reminding all involved of the human life that was tragically lost.