Judge says Levi Axtell not currently competent to stand trial
Levi Axtell, the Cook County resident who is charged with murdering a Grand Marais man earlier this year, is mentally ill, dangerous, and not competent to stand trial at this time, according to the state of Minnesota.
On March 10, Axtell was charged with second-degree murder following the death of Lawrence Scully. According to the criminal charges, Axtell murdered Scully using a shovel and a moose antler. The murder took place at Scully’s home in Grand Marais.
The findings on Axtell’s mental health and competency were submitted to the local court system last week. Among the findings by Mischelle Vietanen, a Minnesota-based psychologist who was appointed by the court to review Axtell’s mental health, were the following: “(Axtell’s) behaviors are impacted by hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.”
In making a recommendation to the legal court that Axtell be placed in a mental-health facility, Vietanen described Axtell as having “justified the killing of (Scully).” Axtell, Vietanen continued, “is unable or unwilling to take responsibility for making decisions to interrupt a repeat of impulsive, harmful behaviors.”
It was Axtell’s attorney, Christa Groshek, who made the request for a mental health evaluation March 22. The request was sent to Judge Michael Cuzzo. A virtual hearing on the request took place July 10, where Axtell was determined to be incompetent to stand trial at this time. Cuzzo ruled in support of the findings that Axtell is mentally ill and, at least at this time, not competent to stand trial.
In her report submitted to the court, which was reviewed by WTIP’s news department July 11, Vietanen found that Axtell “appears to see himself as a ‘hero’ for having killed the alleged victim, and believes that others are likely ‘relieved this was taken care of.'”
Axtell, 27, is currently being held by the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, though he has spent most of the time since his arrest housed in the Lake County Jail in Two Harbors. The Cook County Jail is a holding facility that can only house inmates for up to 72 hours.
Prior to the murder, Axtell and Scully had a history of legal wrangling, including issues related to the safety of children, according to court documents reviewed by WTIP. Court filings show that Axtell sought a protective order against Scully on behalf of his then 22-month-old daughter in April 2018. However, Cuzzo denied the request for a harassment order in May 2018 after he found “no indication” of “repeated unwanted or intrusive acts” by Scully against Axtell or his daughter.
Scully ran for mayor in 2014, though during the campaign many called into question his past behavior as a convicted sexual predator. He was convicted in March 1979 for molesting a 6-year-old in Kanabec County, Minn.
Axtell was arraigned via Zoom on the day he was charged, and bail was set in the amount of $1 million. The next court date for Axtell likely won’t come until February 2024, pending further mental health reviews and updates from the state.