The Woolf House building, an apartment complex for low-income residents and seniors, at 801 Howard Street was the site of a homicide on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (Davíd Rodríguez/Special to S.F. Examiner)

The Woolf House building, an apartment complex for low-income residents and seniors, at 801 Howard Street was the site of a homicide on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (Davíd Rodríguez/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Man who decapitated grandmother to plead insanity

The defense attorney representing the man accused of murdering and decapitating his grandmother last week said he plans to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

Speaking outside court Tuesday after a scheduled appearance by Andrew Luke, 30, Deputy Public Defender Mark Jacobs said his client has a bipolar disorder.

“He was not medicated, and he was going through a psychotic break,” Jacobs said.

According to court documents, prosecutors allege that Luke reported on Sept. 24 that God had been speaking to him and he was possessed by a demon.

Trying to get the demon out, he banged his head repeatedly against a wall. He was taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital where he received staples to the back of his head.

He was then sent home.

SEE RELATED: Man beheads 82-year-old grandmother in SoMa, source says

“He went to the ER, he’s talking about these delusional beliefs that he had, acting psychotic, and they let him go home with his grandmother,” Jacobs said. “I don’t know if a psychiatrist saw him…but something broke down in our mental health system.”

“He was failed by the system. This whole thing could have been avoided,” said Mina Raissi, the mother of one of Luke’s childhood friends, who has known him since kindergarten. “They put a Band-Aid on him and sent him home.”

SFGH did not respond to a request for comment.

Court documents state Luke’s delusions continued the next day. At home, in the bathroom, he again banged his head repeatedly. When his grandmother, 83, came to the door, Luke believed she was possessed by a demon and he was commanded by Jesus “to get rid of it.”

Prosecutors say he then stabbed her with two knives, beat her over the head with a rolling pin, and used a knife to sever her head. He then called 911 to report what he had done.

“At the time, he didn’t know it was his grandmother,” Jacobs said.

Since his arrest, Luke has been receiving medication and psychiatric treatment, Jacobs said.

“He’s in deep pain and despair,” he said. “He loves his grandmother, and now he can’t believe what’s happened. He really believed he was killing the devil or a demon.”

“I want him to get real help, not just shoved into an institution,” Raissi said. “All throughout his high school years he was part of our family. He was welcome. When his grandmother was away on trips, he would stay with us.”

If Luke is found not guilty by reason of insanity, Jacobs said he would likely spend the rest of his life in a locked psychiatric facility. “I have known people who have gotten out,” he said. “Most don’t.”

“You only have a couple options: prison, or the state hospital,” Jacobs said. “Those are the only options our society and our civilization provides for this type of situation.”

Raissi and other childhood friends of Luke said they are now preparing for the tragedy of him never coming home.

“It’s one tragedy to lose the grandmother, but a bigger tragedy to lose Andrew like this,” she said. “We love him. His grandmother was his main provider through his childhood. I don’t want him to feel that he doesn’t have anybody else.”

Luke was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday, but remains hospitalized in a locked unit at SFGH. His arraignment has been scheduled for Oct. 9.Transit

Just Posted

Pregnant women are in the high-risk category currently prioritized for booster shots in San Francisco. (Unai Huizi/Shutterstock)
What pregnant women need to know about COVID and booster shots

Inoculations for immunosuppressed individuals are recommended in the second trimester

Examiner reporter Ben Schneider drives an Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle along Beach Street in Fisherman’s Wharf on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Could San Francisco’s tiny tourist cruisers become the cars of the future?

‘Fun Utility Vehicles’ have arrived in The City

The Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus is pictured on Jan. 14. The Democrats’ Build Back Better bill would enable free community college nationwide, but CCSF is already tuition-free for all San Francisco residents. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
What Biden’s Build Back Better bill would mean for San Franciscans

Not much compared to other places — because The City already provides several key features

A directional sign at Google in Mountain View, Calif., on Oct. 20, 2020. Workers at Google and Amazon are demanding their companies pull out of Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion contract to provide cloud services for the Israeli military and government. (Laura Morton/The New York Times)
Google and Amazon employees criticize $1.2 billion cloud services contract with Israel

‘We can create a world in which tech companies can thrive without doing harm’

Most Read