Santa Maria hatchet murderer facing release
November 14, 2014
The doctors of a former altar boy who killed a senior citizen in a random hatchet attack in Santa Maria five years ago have recommended that their patient be released, a decision that is now under the purview of the courts.
In 2009, then 20-year-old Nicholas Bendle attacked and partially decapitated a 69-year-old man who was taking a morning walk.
Before the killing, Bendle was active in his church, had a girlfriend and was attending community college while holding down a job. Then, the death of a close friend shortly before the killing is suspected of triggering the onset of schizophrenia, which often occurs in a person’s 20s.
During his trial, Bendle plead guilty and blamed undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenia for the attack. Attorneys on both sides agreed Bendle was insane at the time of the killing.
Since 2011, Bendle has been intense psychiatric treatment Patton State Mental Hospital in San Bernardino County. A treatment multiple doctors say Bendle has had a “complete recovery.”
On Thursday, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge John McGregor postponed ruling on the release of Bendle, saying he needs time to review various medical reports.