PITTSBURGH (AP)—A mentally ill man held a businessman hostage in his downtown office last month because the suspect hadn't taken his medication and heard a crow and other voices directing his actions, a defense attorney said.
The attorney, Blaine Jones, made the comments after a district judge in Pittsburgh Municipal Court ordered Klein Michael Thaxton, 22, of McKeesport, to stand trial on charges of kidnapping, terroristic threats and aggravated assault.
|BATTLING VOICES--Klein Michael Thaxton is led from Pittsburgh Police headquarters by police on Sept. 21 after a hostage incident at Three Gateway Center in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
Jones said his client is back on his medication and is relieved nobody was hurt. Thaxton was battling bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and depression on Sept. 21, the day he took financier Charles Breitsman hostage for more than five hours.
"I think he was more of a danger to himself," Jones said. "He was battling voices more than he was battling Breitsman"—the only witness to testify at Wednesday's preliminary hearing.
Breitsman was in his 16th floor office at C.W. Breitsman Associates, which handles pension accounts for unions and other financial business, when Thaxton walked in that morning with a hammer and a kitchen knife he had taken from the halfway house where he had been living.
Breitsman testified that Thaxton held the steak knife "a lot less than an inch" form his eye and throat while threatening to kill him and "was essentially talking craziness." For much of the ordeal, Breitsman sat listening to police negotiating with Thaxton on a speaker phone.
During the standoff, Thaxton posted comments about his depressed state on Facebook using his hostage's computer and smartphone, police said. Investigators believe Thaxton chose Breitsman at random after seeing the electronics through a glass window in his office in Three Gateway Center, a downtown high-rise.
But Jones said Thaxton was also being directed by voices. He said one was a crow that Thaxton heard telling him to enter the building and that the other voices told him to harm someone.
Thaxton surrendered after more than five hours without physically harming Breitsman or himself.
Jones contends Thaxton fought against the voices in deciding not to hurt Breitsman. Thaxton handed his attorney a note during Wednesday's preliminary hearing, noting that he shook hands with Breitsman upon surrendering.
Thaxton remained in jail, unable to post $1 million bond.