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Mentally ill Minneapolis man pleads guilty to killing his parents with screwdrivers

Star Tribune - 11/21/2017

Nov. 21--A 38-year-old man with a long history of mental illness admitted to killing his parents in their Eden Prairie home by stabbing them with screwdrivers and declined Tuesday to accept a plea deal that would potentially reduce his punishment.

Nathan T. Lehman, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty in Hennepin County District Court to two counts of intentional second-degree murder in connection with the May 25 deaths of Robert Lehman, 57, and Debra Lehman, 58.

The prosecution offered Nathan Lehman the chance to plead to one count of intentional second-degree murder and another of unintentional second-degree murder. The potential sentence would have been roughly 40 years.

However, said defense attorney Bryan Leary, his client chose a "straight plea," meaning his admits to the two initial charges because he wants to take full responsibility for the murders. That decision means he could a longer prison term. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 8.

Nathan Lehman also chose to avoid pleading not guilty because he didn't want to put his family and others through a trial.

Two weeks before the killings, Nathan Lehman had been civilly committed as mentally ill. His parents said they were in fear of him because of past aggressive and delusional behavior, court documents said. Police first connected Nathan Lehman to the deaths through several 911 calls over the past 10 years.

Police were called to the quiet cul-de-sac on the 6000 block of Woodhill Trail about 7:20 a.m. to conduct a welfare check because Robert Lehman failed to report for work as an Eden Prairie School District bus driver.

The son told authorities he stabbed his parents with a screwdriver in each hand after arriving at the home in the middle of the night.

Nathan Lehman has been civilly committed as mentally ill and chemically dependent several times since 2014, and he often didn't comply with medicine or treatment plans. He is incapable of self-management of his personal affairs because of the amount of marijuana and methamphetamine he used on a daily and weekly basis, a court document said.

He suffered from paranoid delusions, and believed he was being followed by police and the FBI. He had been aggressive with his father when he lived with his parents, court documents said.

Last year, he was charged in Otter Tail County District Court for allegedly breaking windows on cars and businesses, possessing methamphetamine and evading police to the point they used a stun gun on him, according to his criminal complaint.

He was hospitalized for psychological treatment again in February 2016 after jumping out of a moving vehicle. He told staff he would continue to take methamphetamines as his prescription because it helped him connect to God, court documents said.

Lehman was most recently discharged from the University of Minnesota Medical Center on April 14. A condition of his release was to live at his parents' home. However, about a week later he went missing, and on May 9, a judge ordered that he again be civilly committed in a locked psychiatric unit, records show. His parents soon filed a missing-person report.


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