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Authorities agree Vt. man was insane during killing at Littleton hotel

A Vermont man was insane when he stabbed a stranger to death last year in the lobby of a Littleton hotel, the state and his defense lawyer have agreed.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell said yesterday that the state agrees Rodney Hill of West Danville, Vt., was insane Jan. 28, 2013, when he attacked 70-year-old Catherine Houghton of San Francisco at the Hampton Inn.

Hill, 38, told the police he believed he was Jesus and that Houghton was the devil or his father out to hurt his family. Houghton, a 1960 graduate and member of the board of trustees of the White Mountain School in Bethlehem, was in town for board meetings.

Hill also said he was going through a divorce and was angry at an email he had gotten from his boss when he punched and stabbed Houghton. A self-employed welder who also recently worked at the Ryegate Power Station, Hill also said he was taking an anti-psychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar depression.

Prosecutors said the attack appeared to have been random.

His lawyer, Mark Sisti, recently submitted a notice of intent to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, and Morrell said the state will agree. Hill in November had been ruled competent to stand trial.

“If we went to trial, we’d be litigating the issue of whether he was or was not insane,” Morrell said. “Here, we have evidence that we believe establishes clearly that Mr. Hill’s conduct was the product of mental illness.”

As part of the agreement, Hill acknowledges that he is a danger to himself and others.

If a judge approves the agreement, Hill will formally enter the plea June 19. He’ll be sent to the secure psychiatric ward at the New Hampshire State Prison, and his status will be reviewed every five years. That means he could be released in as little as five years or be kept longer if a judge determines he remains dangerous.

Morrell said Houghton’s family would be kept up to date about any future hearings.

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