By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona man accused of decapitating his wife and two puppies before cutting off part of his arm and gouging out one of his eyes pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder on Tuesday, court officials said.
Kenneth Dale Wakefield, 43, a transient with a history of mental illness, also pleaded not guilty to two counts of animal cruelty during a hearing at Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix.
Asked for his name by court commissioner Julie Mata, Wakefield identified himself. During an earlier court appearance, the suspect had emitted a wail while a prosecutor was speaking.
Authorities said Wakefield has admitted stabbing his 49-year-old wife, Trina Heisch, multiple times before decapitating her in an attempt to "get the evil out." He also cut off the heads of their two dogs.
Wakefield then severed his left arm at the elbow and gouged out his right eyeball before being discovered by a neighbor who was checking on the couple, according to court documents.
Police found the bodies of his wife and the dogs in a bedroom closet of their blood-splattered apartment in Phoenix. Several bloody knives were recovered from the crime scene.
Wakefield told police that he had smoked marijuana and the designer drug Spice about an hour before the incident occurred, court documents said.
Police said Wakefield's wife also had a history on mental illness, and that the couple were married after meeting in a mental health facility.
Wakefield was arrested in 2003 for trying to kill a family member, police said. Heisch was arrested in March on a domestic violence charge of trying to stab her husband.
Wakefield, who is being held on a $2 million bond, is set to appear in court again on Sept. 30. His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Grant McCool)