OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A defense attorney for a man accused of fatally stabbing his father, Oklahoma's former labor commissioner, said Tuesday that the 27-year-old is "very remorseful" and being examined by a private psychiatrist.
Chief Public Defender Bob Ravitz said following a court hearing in the case that Christian Costello, who is being held in the Oklahoma County Jail without bond and did not appear in court Tuesday, is doing "the best he can do, considering."
Prosecutors say Costello attacked his father, Mark Costello, with a knife and repeatedly stabbed him on Aug. 23 at an Oklahoma City restaurant. Christian Costello has pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge.
"It's a real tragic event," Ravitz said of the man. "He's very remorseful."
Costello's family has said in a statement that he suffers from a mental illness and court records show Costello previously spent 90 days in a mental health facility and taken mood stabilizers. Ravitz declined to reveal whether Costello is taking any medications but said a private psychiatrist is examining him.
"We're studying all of Christian's records," he said. "It's taken a while to get them."
Special Judge Lisa Hammond scheduled a Feb. 5 preliminary hearing in the case. On that day, prosecutors will present evidence that will help Hammond determine whether a crime was committed and whether there is probable cause Christian Costello committed it. First-degree murder is punishable by life in prison with or without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
Prosecutors filed the charge about a week after Mark Costello was attacked at a Braum's restaurant and ice cream shop in Oklahoma City, where authorities say Christian Costello allegedly pulled a knife and repeatedly stabbed his father. Witnesses said the attack continued after Mark Costello ran into the parking lot where his wife, Cathy Costello, tried to intervene.
Police say they interviewed at least 17 witnesses, all of whom said they saw Costello stabbing his father with a small knife. At least one witness knocked Christian Costello off-balance with a vehicle, and others held him down until officers arrived, police have said.
The state Medical Examiner's Office has ruled that Mark Costello died from stab wounds to the neck and classified his death as a homicide.
Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin appointed Melissa McLawhorn Houston, chief of staff of the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office, to serve the rest of Mark Costello's unexpired term, which extends until January 2019. Costello's widow had sought the position. Houston is expected to begin her new role by Dec. 1. She has said she has no plans to run for the office in 2018.