Once Judged Too Disabled for Prison, Man Admits Killing, Takes Plea | NBC 6 South Florida
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Once Judged Too Disabled for Prison, Man Admits Killing, Takes Plea

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    A killer has agreed to go to prison -- a fate he’s been able to avoid in the past by claiming he was too mentally disabled to be held responsible for his crimes. NBC 6 investigator Tony Pipitone was in court Wednesday when that excuse ran out.

    (Published Wednesday, April 26, 2017)

    Register Holsendorff III could have gone to prison for a minimum of 10 years in 2005, after his arrest on three armed robbery charges.

    But he persuaded doctors and a judge he was so severely mentally disabled, he was not competent to stand trial.

    So, after several years in a state hospital and group homes, he was back on the streets in July 2012 where he would commit another crime: murder.

    But, this time, a Miami-Dade circuit judge wasn’t buying his supposed mental incompetency.

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    The most compelling ammunition against him: his stellar – some might say, miraculous – behavior while in a group home.

    The man -- who some doctors said lacked the ability to be personally independent and socially responsible -- managed to stagger group home visiting hours for his wife and girlfriend so they didn’t cross paths, according to the home manager. He even diverted his disability check from the group home so he – and not the group home – could cash it.

    In essence, Judge Monica Gordo found in 2013, Holsendorff was faking it -- trying “an unsophisticated attempt to malinger” to get out of the 2005 armed robbery and other charges.

    This time, the court would not let it happen again, after he killed a man in what police say was an argument over money or a woman.

    Wednesday, Holsendorff pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, agreeing to a 20-year prison sentence, with 10 years of it mandatory for use of a firearm. He will be sentenced in August.

    He told Judge Alan Fine he was “feeling good” after getting a morning dose of Haldol for what he said was bipolar schizophrenia.

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    His attorney, Alan Greenstein, said there was no doubt he suffered from some mental illness, but after Judge Gordo ruled he had bene malingering in the past and was, instead, competent to stand trial, he said the plea deal was a “fair resolution.”

    “The state of the state’s case – I’m not saying they couldn’t prove it, but both sides had something to argue,” said Greenstein, adding, “and the fact Mr. Holsendorff had a history, whether he’s malingering or not, he certainly had a history of mental illness.”

    Holsendorff, 36, has a record of at least eight felony arrests since he was 19.

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    While some doctors had claimed he was what the law calls “mentally retarded,” Judge Gordo noted that should have been diagnosed as such before he was 18.

    Instead, she noted, “The first credible report of the defendant suffering from intellectual disability was when he was 25 and facing charges that would subject him to a lengthy prison term.”

    Had he been convicted and sentenced to the minimum mandatory for those armed robberies, he would not have been free to murder in 2012.

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