Michael Crane has pleaded not guilty to three murders he is charged with committing in late January 2012, but during one of his many outbursts in court on Friday, he declared the opposite.
“I take the blame for all these crimes and would like to go home,” Crane said, pointing his finger skyward.
Crane, 36, is charged with first-degree murder in the January 2012 deaths of Glenna and Lawrence Shapiro of Paradise Valley and Bruce Gaudet of Phoenix. The deaths were part of two separate home invasions that Crane is accused of being involved in. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
His admission in Maricopa County Superior Court during a routine hearing gave Judge Warren Granville pause. The judge told Crane that his sudden change of heart was alarming and, combined with his unpredictable behavior in court, again brought into question Crane’s mental competency.
Granville explained to Crane that he wanted to approve the Rule 11 motion filed by his defense attorney and the state to determine if his “intent to change his plea was voluntarily or if his mental stability was playing a part.” A Rule 11 in Arizona is defined such that a person who may have a mental illness, defect or disability cannot stand trial, be convicted, sentenced or punished for any public offense.
“Fine, fine,” Crane said, “get ‘er done.” Before the judge could finish, Crane hollered out “We done?” becoming visibly more agitated.
“Irregardless to whenever the change of plea is submitted in this case, it is the state’s intention to take this case before a jury,” Deputy County Attorney Patricia Stevens said, adding that because this is a capital-murder case, they would not be offering a plea deal to Crane.
As Crane was being escorted out of court by sheriff’s deputies, he turned to his family members in the gallery and said he loved them. He then swung all the way around to look at Stevens and, after calling her names, said, “Rule 11 is ridiculous and unnecessary.”
Crane spat expletives at Granville, as well, as he exited the courtroom.
Disruptions and profanity-laced tirades are par for the course when Crane appears in court. Such behavior prompted officials to look into his mental stability in early April 2015. He is expected to be back in court May 19 after his defense team and the state have had time to review the court-ordered mental-health assessment.
Crane pleaded guilty last month to two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of armed robbery and burglary in a separate case. His sentencing is set for April.