July 27 2017 11:45 AM
Accused killer found incompetent to stand trial in suspected hate case

The accused murderer in what has overtones of a gay hate crime has been deemed incompetent to stand trial, Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon said.

Judge Louise Alderson, of 54-A District Court, made the determination Friday in a hearing for Larkin Neely Jr., Siemon said. Neely was charged with killing Kevin Wirth in his home on May 21.

“He is currently at the Ingham County Jail pending transport to the Center for Forensic Psychiatry for treatment,” Siemon said Monday. “With appropriate therapeutic interventions, it is likely that Mr. Neely will be restored to competency within the 15 months statutory period and able to stand trial.”

A defendant must be able to understand the charges against him as well as be able to assist in preparing his defense.

Christin Harris, a lifelong friend of Wirth’s, said she was “disappointed” by the decision but “respectful of Neely’s rights.”

“In time, I am hopeful everyone who was hurt by Kevin’s death will get the answers they need to help with closure and healing,” she said.

Wirth, 27, was found in his home in the 1100 block of Kalamazoo Street shortly before 7 a.m. May 21. Police who were called to the home to respond to a burglar alarm found the back door open. Wirth had been stabbed 22 times, according a court transcript. The only thing taken from the home was Wirth’s cellphone. Police charged Neely Jr. 30, of Detroit, with murder and armed robbery.

The cellphone was discovered by a citizen walking their dog between Wirth’s home and the Radisson Hotel, where Neely was staying, the transcript revealed.

The excessive brutality of the stabbing death, combined with the short time the two had known each other, led civil rights experts, including Lansing Association for Human Rights President Emily Dievendorf, to opine this attack had all the hallmarks of a hate crime. Wirth was gay.

She said the group respects the mental health process the court is undertaking and “will continue to provide support” to those impacted by Wirth’s death.

“Justice for Kevin is paramount.

LAHR will work to ensure that no LGBTQIA life lost to violence is forgotten and we will pursue justice and equality for LGBTQIA peoples through community-led advocacy, connection and education,” she said. “In the meantime, through ongoing efforts and collaborations with community leaders, the work to better identify and respond to possible bias crimes is well underway.”