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St. Joseph — A Coloma man faces a first-degree murder charge in the fatal stabbing of his mother.

The Herald-Palladium reports that 47-year-old Monty Menefee appeared in Berrier County Trial Court on Thursday for a preliminary hearing. He was arrested in Ohio on April 29 in connection to the death of his mother, 79-year-old Lavonne Monta.

Police were called to a warehouse in Coloma on April 24 on reports of a possible suicide. According to testimony heard Thursday, police said they found Monta dead in living quarters above the warehouse. Autopsy reports later determined that she died of a stab wound to the neck. And there was evidence that she had been strangled.

Berrien County Detective Lt. Gregory Sanders testified that after his arrest, Menefee agreed to talk to police. Menefee admitted to Sanders that he killed his mother, and described her death as a “mercy killing.”

“He said he’d gotten information that he was getting kicked out of the building. He said he’d made a wreck of his life. His mother couldn’t live on her own and she had no place else to go,” Sanders testified. “He’d told his wife that he was going to work things out. He was thinking about doing something to his own life, but he didn’t want his mother to go through that. He said he’d thought about 30 to 40 options and decided to kill his mother.”

Defense lawyer Richard Sammis asked Sanders if he knew that a lawyer, Tat Parish of Watervliet, was trying to contact Menefee and that his family was trying to reach him.

“I did not receive that (information) until later. It’s up to Mr. Menefee to exercise his rights. It’s not up to Mr. Parish,” Sanders responded. Sanders said Menefee never asked for a lawyer during the questioning.

A judge ruled there was enough evidence to show probable cause that a murder had been committed, that it was Menefee who committed it and that there were signs of premeditation. A trial is set to begin on Oct. 13.

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