Husband gets insanity plea in fatal stabbing
Pontiac – A judge accepted a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity Thursday for a former Quicken Loans executive charged with stabbing his wife to death last year in their Commerce Township home.
Noah Ian Ravenscroft, 37, was charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the death of his 38-year-old wife, Kristyjo Lynn Ravenscroft, who Oakland County sheriff’s deputies found lying on the floor of her home on Applebrook Court on Jan. 23, 2017, after the couple’s 10-year-old daughter called 911 to report her parents were fighting.
That girl and her two siblings – a 13-year-old brother and a 4-year-old sister – were all found unharmed inside a locked upstairs bathroom.
“I have reviewed the reports and the evaluations and do find a factual basis to accept this plea,” said Oakland County Circuit Judge Phyllis C. McMillen, after advising Ravenscroft he was waving his right to a trial and would be immediately turned over to state mental health authorities for evaluation for at least 60 days.
Ravenscroft sat quietly during the brief hearing, occasionally smiling at people he knew in the courtroom. Several people, believed to be relatives or friends, sat in front rows, one woman bursting into tears when McMillen said she accepted the plea. Relatives of the victim sat stoically a few feet away.
While a conviction of first-degree murder carried a potential penalty of life in prison, the plea of not guilty by reason of insanity does not mean Ravenscroft walks free.
While such a plea is rare, it means that after extensive forensic evaluation and subsequent treatment, the matter can be referred to a probate judge who can order further hospitalization for an indefinite time. It also spares families the pain and strain of a trial while providing incarceration and needed treatment for a person with mental illness.
Both defense attorney Michael McCarthy and assistant prosecutor Kenneth Frazee told McMillen they agreed with Thursday’s plea. Frazee told McMillen he had also discussed the situation with the victim’s family and “they are aware of the ramifications.”
McCarthy was prepared to rely on court record and previous testimony that Ravenscroft had exhibited mental health issues to several people, including police, which showed he exhibited “unstable and unusual behavior” in the weeks prior to the slaying.
When deputies responded to a 911 call of a Jan. 23, 2017, domestic disturbance at the Ravenscroft home, he greeted them at the front door, his hands and clothing soaked in blood and told them “to shoot him, to kill him” and stated he had “already killed himself,” according to testimony at a preliminary examination last year.
An autopsy determined his wife had been stabbed at least 20 times in the chest, back, arms and hands. Her face – nose, cheeks, lips and jaw – also were cut and bruised from an apparent beating she sustained before the fatal stab wounds to her heart and lungs, a medical examiner theorized.
A kitchen knife was used in the killing.
Deputy Chad Abbuhl said Ravenscroft said he had stabbed himself and also made other statements such as “I killed us all,” “They have data,” “Don’t talk to me they are going to torture me,” “Don’t put my name on the list,” “There is no nuclear war” and “Everything on my computers in the house incriminates me.”
While a court-ordered forensic examination indicated Ravenscroft was mentally competent to stand trial, following a request for an independent psychiatric evaluation, McCarthy filed his intention to seek an insanity defense for Ravenscroft.
In December 2016, Ravenscroft abruptly resigned from his job as a senior vice president for technology at Quicken Loans. Records show Ravenscroft also had attempted to be admitted to a mental health facility, had been prescribed and was taking powerful medications, and told officers he believed he was a danger to himself and others.
A jury or judge, in the case of a bench trial, have four possible verdicts when the legal insanity defense is properly raised: not guilty, not guilty by reason of insanity, guilty but mentally ill, or guilty.
Under a plea of guilty but mentally ill, a defendant obtains mental health treatment, including hospitalization, but afterward must serve out the remainder of the sentence in prison, with credit for time served while in the hospital.
Not guilty by reason of insanity implies a person either could not tell the difference between right and wrong or was unable to control his actions to conform with the law.