A man was sentenced to 45 years in prison on Friday for the ax killing of a woman whose head was nearly severed, as well as shooting and wounding a southern New Mexico sheriff’s deputy.
Andrew Poteet Magill, 25, pleaded guilty to second degree murder in the April 2017 death of Mary Ann Moorhouse at a ranch about 10 miles east of the city of Ruidoso Downs. Authorities said Magill struck Moorhouse at least four times with an ax and then nearly decapitated her.
The judge on Friday initially issued a 51-year sentence but suspended six years, citing Magill’s mental health. Magill originally pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but a psychiatrist for the prosecution testified he was sane.
Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies had discovered Moorhouse’s body and a blood-covered ax after going to the ranch to check on her welfare in response to a call by a concerned co-worker.
A hitchhiking Magill was taken to a hospital by Ruidoso Downs police for a mental evaluation after a motorist dropped him off at the police station two years ago, where he told officers he had just “chopped a woman’s head off with an ax so that he could save the world,” Otero County prosecutors said.
Authorities said a deputy investigating the ax killing was shot in the shoulder by Magill after he picked up the deputy’s gun when it fell to the floor during a struggle at the hospital.
(The AP contributed to this report.)