Craig Christopher Rolle, Crazy Man Who Fatally Stabbed Stepmom, Can Eventually Be Freed
A 24-year-old man who believes he is the Prince of Wales and that his royal family will eventually intervene on his behalf has been sentenced to be committed for 26 years to life at Patton State Hospital for fatally stabbing his stepmother 67 times until she died in 2008.
That did not satisfy 24-year-old Tabea Kenney's family, who wanted Craig Christopher Rolle put away for life.
Judge William Froeberg expressed sympathy but explained 26 years to life was the same sentence Rolle would receive were he being sent to a state prison and, by law, the Orange County Superior Court jurist cannot increase the penalty for a mental patient. A jury in March found Rolle guilty of first-degree murder but of also being legally insane.
Froeberg also apologized to Rolle/Kenney family members who believe the criminal justice system betrayed them. They had tried to get Rolle taken off the streets due to his increasingly bizarre behavior before the murder.
"On behalf of the criminal justice system, I apologize to you if you feel it failed," Froeberg reportedly said. "Why society doesn't take care of its sick people, I don't know. I guess it's a money thing."
(If we could only channel Ronald Reagan at times like this . . .)
Rolle, who grew up in foster homes, had several brushes with the law and suffers from a wide range of mental-health problems, including paranoid schizophrenia, increasingly blamed his condition on the new relationship between his father and Kenney.
He bought a 4-inch folding knife on Sept. 15, 2008, the same day he tried to break into his father's Tustin apartment by breaking a window. Kenney, who was home alone, heard the commotion and opened a door slightly to see what caused it. Neighbors heard her beg for her life, followed by stony silence.
The killer had no expression on his face in March when the jury found him guilty of murder and of being insane. Rolle's public defender explained his client did not understand the proceedings and instead wanted to talk about trains.
Rolle yawned during the victim's impact statement Kenney's mother delivered in court last week, with Cecilia Elgueta at one point telling him, "You, Craig Rolle, have my daughter's blood on your hands. You had no mercy for my daughter, so why should we have any mercy for you."
"Nothing can fill the void he has left in our family," Pamina Elgueta, Kenney's sister, told Froeberg. It pains that same family to no end that should Patton doctors find Rolle mentally competent, he can petition to be kicked loose.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts