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Mental Illness Delays 2 Big Trials

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

  Defendants in two high-profile cases -- a father accused of kidnapping his sons by sea and a teen-age baseball star charged with fatally stabbing his mother -- have been found mentally unfit to stand trial.

Joshua Hakken, a 36-year-old engineer from Tampa, made national headlines last April when he and his wife Sharyn kidnapped their two sons, Cole and Chase, and fled to Cuba on a sailboat. The couple had lost their parental rights after the father’s drug arrest in Louisiana in 2012.

According to prosecution documents released earlier, Joshua Hakken took his family to Cuba because he believed that the U.S. government had a secret plan to poison Americans with chemicals dropped from planes. Their boat was stopped outside Havana and the Hakkens were flown back to Florida, where their boys were placed in the custody of their grandparents.

A mental-health evaluation for Joshua Hakken resulted in a finding that he was “insane,” according to a remark by Hillsborough Circuit Judge Chet Tharpe at a hearing on Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Timesreports. The judge delayed a decision on where he will be sent for treatment.

The evaluation for SharynHakken produced mixed results, according to her attorney. More tests are pending.

In the other case, a judge in the Panhandle town of Milton declared Brandon Aydelott unfit for trial, Northwest Florida Daily Newsreports. He will be sent to Florida State Hospital for further evaluation and treatment. 

Aydelott, 17, is charged with first-degree murder, accused of bludgeoning and stabbing his mother to death on Christmas Eve. A star pitcher for the Gulf Breeze High School baseball team, he is being represented by the public defender’s office.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.