A man in Vermont has been sentenced to eight to 15 years in prison for the murder of his mother, who he believed was possessed.
55-year-old Roderick Geronimo pleaded guilty to manslaughter in July to the 2012 murder of his 80-year-old mother, Gertrudes Alwardt, the Rutland Herald reports. Geronimo had been caring for his mother, who had breast cancer, for four years.
The incident occurred on the night of July 2, 2012. Authorities claim that Geronimo repeatedly pushed a table into Alwardt, pinning her against cabinets. He then proceeded to hit her over the head with a liquor bottle; when that broke, he began using a wine decanter. Geronimo later poured water into her mouth to “cast the devil out” and then stuffed the arm of her sweater into his mouth.
He allegedly told police that God had told him to murder his mother because she was possessed by Satan. He also claimed that he heard voices in his head, messages through the TV, and that God communicated which of his neighbors were evil by how dogs urinated on their property.
“He was in the grips of a religiously preoccupied psychosis,” Dr. Philip Kinsler, one of three psychiatrists who evaluated Geronimo, said. Kinsler stated that he believed the stress of caring for his mother led to Geronimo’s psychotic break.
In court, the 55-year-old expressed remorse for his crime and said that he was willing to serve whatever sentence was handed to him.
Both the defense and prosecution agreed that Geronimo had suffered a psychotic episode at the time of his murder, reducing the charge to manslaughter.