Connection between mental health issues and criminal activity

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. More than one month after authorities found 54-year-old Kathleen Stetzel's body in the desert in Grand Junction her own son is now being charged for her murder.

Daniel Stetzel admitted to investigators that he's responsible for his mother's death and now he's facing second degree murder charges.

According to an arrest affidavit, Kathleen's sister said Daniel suffers from schizophrenia raising questions about mental health issues and if they lead to criminal behavior.

Dealing with a mental health disorder can be a hard pill to swallow. Counselor Scott Aber said along with the impacts on the patient, friends and family, not taking it seriously can land them in hot water with authorities.

Staying on top of medication prescribed is a crucial part of treatment for those who are diagnosed. Aber said some of his clients stop taking their medicine because they say they're feeling better. However, skipping out on pills can lead to disaster. Before things go too far there are three signs to watch out for.

"The people they hang with, the places they go and their play things and the play things could be drug paraphernalia or guns," Aber.

23% of crimes are committed by people suffering from schizophrenia and 62% of crimes are influenced by bipolar disorder according to medical experts. If caught and facing the court system using a mental defense can be an option for a defendant.

There are two kinds of defense; one is reason of insanity meaning the person is incapable of knowing the difference between right and wrong, "It's pretty tough to convince a jury that this person is so out there they had no idea what they were doing is wrong," Pete Hautzinger, District Attorney.

The other is diminished capacity. A person knows what they're doing, but is disturbed enough not be able to form the intent required for the crime.

As for Daniel Stetzel, District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said there has been no decision on if his attorneys will use his mental state as a form of defense, but in any case involving these issues it's something each side takes into consideration.

Stetzel was in court Tuesday afternoon for an advisement hearing. He will be back in court in September for a formal filing of charges. He’s being held in the Mesa County Jail on a $1,000,000 cash bond.

KKCO 11 News reached out to his family for their reaction to the charges, but they had no comment.

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