Alexander Kinyua, 22, entered the plea to first-degree murder in the death of 37-year-old Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie last year. The former Morgan State University student spoke softly as he responded to questions from the judge, saying he had agreed to the plea and that medications he had been taking were helping him. He declined an opportunity to address the court.
Judge Stephen Waldron said he had concerns about agreeing to the plea, but had to accept determinations by psychiatrists for the defense and prosecution that Kinyua could not be held criminally responsible. He expressed condolences to family and friends of the Agyei-Kodie.
"My heart breaks for you," Waldron said. "I am very, very sorry."
Kinyua has been held at the state's maximum-security psychiatric hospital and returned there after the hearing.
Percess Veronica Mattison, a longtime family friend who knew Agyei-Kodie, told the judge the murder has devastated the victim's family.
"We all could see him soaring to great heights in the world. This was not to be," Mattison said. "He was slaughtered in the most brutal, inhumane fashion by Alexander Kinyua. This is an irreplaceable loss accompanied by much pain."
She also noted that Kinyua carefully tried to conceal evidence.
"Someone acting with such care to conceal evidence, and demonstrating the capacity to cover his tracks so competently does not appear to be experiencing a mental deficiency," Mattison said. "Alexander did not impulsively commit the crime, he prepared Kujoe for consumption."
Harford County State's Attorney Joseph Cassilly told reporters after the hearing he had concerns about the planning before and after the crime.
"But we went out and consulted with another psychiatrist that we'd used in other cases, had him review this evidence, and we really had no evidence, no testimony or opinion from other medical personnel that would dispute the findings of the doctors at Clifton Perkins that he was not criminally responsible at the time he committed the crime," Cassilly said.
Kinyua, a U.S. citizen originally from Kenya, told detectives that he killed Agyei-Kodie with an axe while he was sleeping. He also said he dismembered the body, consuming his heart, hiding his head and hands at the home and placing the remaining body parts in a trash bin in a nearby church parking lot. Agyei-Kodie, a native of Ghana, had been staying with the Kinyua family for about six weeks at their townhouse in a Baltimore suburb when he disappeared in May 2012. His body was found four days later.
Authorities say Kinyua ranted about "human sacrifices" on Facebook before the slaying.
In a separate case, Kinyua pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible in a baseball bat attack at Morgan State days before the killing of Agyei-Kodie. The man injured in that attack is suing the university, accusing it of ignoring signs that Kinyua was violent.
Kinyua's father is a physics professor at Morgan State.