Seventh District Judge Kevin Miller will decide the disposition of second-degree murder charges against William Hillman by Nov. 30.

A hearing Thursday at the Otter Tail County Courthouse saw the 24-year-old defendant waive his right to a jury trial and allow Miller, after a review of all evidence submitted by the prosecution and the defense, to render a decision. 

Miller’s decision is expected to be strongly influenced by the testimony of four mental health experts who have examined Hillman in the 31 months since his arrest.

Court records show that on the morning of April 17, 2018, the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to a residence 6 ½ miles north of Perham at 43230 505th St. 

The caller reported a man named William who was later identified as Hillman had assaulted his mother and his brother.

Hillman placed a call to the sheriff’s office approximately eight minutes later from a nearby residence stating he had done a “bad thing” and needed to be arrested.

A deputy sheriff and a Perham police officer arrived at the scene of the crime to find two people bludgeoned to death. The murder weapon was identified as a large steel pipe. 

The two deceased were 42-year-old Denise Mcfazden and her 21-year-old son, Dalton. Hillman had been living with the Mcfazden family.

Hillman was arrested without incident. In response to an Otter Tail County detective’s question, Hillman said he had been living where the “accident” had occurred and that he had “killed two people.”

Hillman also said he had gone to sleep the night prior to the double homicide and had later awakened in the darkness. He then said that everything had gone black and that he did not remember what had happened until coming out of his blackness and realizing he had done “a bad thing.”

After being transported to the Otter Tail County Jail, Hillman purportedly told officers he had previously assaulted his mother and been committed to a state hospital in St. Peter – where he was later diagnosed with schizophrenia. Records from Cass County confirmed a 2016 case in that matter, which ultimately concluded with the incident being dismissed by Judge Jana Austad for reasons of Hillman’s mental illness.

According to the current complaint, Hillman claimed he had since been prescribed medication which he had stopped taking within the last five months. He said he had been living with his father in California but returned to Minnesota after his father was arrested. Eventually, he came to reside with the Mcfadzen family, where he had been staying for less than two months.

Minnesota’s maximum sentence for murder in the second degree is imprisonment for not more than 40 years.

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