A 6th Judicial District judge ruled Wednesday a Grand Rapids man did not have a legal basis for a mental illness defense.
Judge Mark Starr issued a court order saying that Benjamin David Lundquist did not have a mental illness or cognitive impairment as to afford him a mental illness defense in the 2017 murder of a Hibbing man, a news release said.
Starr also found the defense did not prove that Lundquist did not know the nature of this act or that killing Joel Dean Gangness in Hibbing in January 2017 was morally wrong, a news release said.
Starr had already determined there was sufficient evidence to convict Lundquist of an intentional second-degree murder charge, which carries a maximum of 40 years in prison, in the bludgeoning and stabbing death of Gangness. Lundquist had waived his right to a jury and agreed to proceed directly to the competency portion of his trial, which took three full days in March.
Lundquist admitted to going to Gangness' apartment at the Star Motel, 3901 First Ave., and fatally assaulting him in a confrontation. He acknowledged bludgeoning the victim with a VCR and stabbing him in the back 15 times.
In a taped interview played in court in March, Lundquist told investigators he had been directed by Jesus to kill a child molestor and pornographer, citing vague directives or conservations that he said led him to the Hibbing apartment building. He chose Gangness' apartment, No. 12, because "everything came to 12," he added.
Investigators said there was no evidence tying the victim to Lundquist's claims of any illegal activity.
Gangness' body was found on the morning of Jan. 17 after it was reported he had failed to complete his morning newspaper deliveries for the Hibbing Daily Tribune and was not answering his phone. Authorities said he was found face down, with a number of CDs and a dinner plate embossed with the word "love" placed on his back.
Lundquist is expected to be sentenced at 8:30 a.m. June 13 in Hibbing.