H-SANTA MARIA

Nov 29, 2011 9:24 PM by Ariel Wesler

Local hatchet killer sentenced to state mental hospital

22-year-old Nicholas Bendle is headed to a state mental hospital, but it's unclear how long he'll be there.

Bendle previously plead guilty to one count of murder. He was found to be insane at the time he killed 69-year-old Frederick Holgate who was out for a morning walk in August of 2009. Doctors say Bendle has paranoid schizophrenia.

The Holgate family does feel justice has been served, but while the sentencing provided some closure, they are still left coping with the pain and misery from that August day.

Nicholas Bendle's schizophrenia went undiagnosed until one sudden psychotic episode forever changed the lives of the Holgate family. A family spokesperson read a statement from the victim's wife.

"His death is now hastening my death too. My life is now dry, meaningless because the person who gave meaning to my life is now dead, murdered mercilessly," said Terri Zuniga, who read the statement.

After a short video montage, Bendle took his turn.

"I am aware that no apology could ever eradicate the tragic event that has linked me to you," he said sobbing.

But he pushed on, expressing his with regret. He made it clear his mental illness was to blame.

"The accounts that are holding me incarcerated are of no reflection of my nature and personality," Bendle said.

Attorneys say he had no criminal history and had a lot going for him.

"He was an athlete, graduate of St. Joe's, manager at a store, had a girlfriend. I mean, everything in his life was rosy," said Bendle's Attorney Tom Allan.

"Mr. Bendle didn't need to say anything today and when he did speak, I believe everyone in that courtroom felt that it was sincere," said Prosecutor Kevin Duffy.

"It is not who I am today, who I was before, or who I will be in the future," Bendle said.

Bendle could spend the rest of his life at Patton State hospital, where he will receive treatment. Doctors will regularly evaluate his condition to determine whether he still poses a threat to society.

Patton State Hospital is a secure, locked down facility, similar to the one in Atascadero. It's located in San Bernadino.

Frederick Holgate is survived by his wife and 20-year-old daughter.

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