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Schabusiness competent in killing & dismemberment, but another psych exam ordered

Taylor Schabusiness appears in Brown County court via video conference April 13, 2022. (WLUK image)
Taylor Schabusiness appears in Brown County court via video conference April 13, 2022. (WLUK image)
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WARNING: Some people may find the details in this story disturbing.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLUK) -- A woman who allegedly killed and decapitated a man is competent to stand trial -- but a defense request for a second psychiatric exam was granted Wednesday.

Taylor Schabusiness is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, mutilating a corpse, and third-degree sexual assault for allegedly killing Shad Thyrion Feb. 22 at a west side home.

The first competency exam deemed Schabusiness able to understand the court proceedings and assist in her own defense. The law allows for the defense to request a second opinion, which it did, and which Judge Thomas Walsh granted.

The question of competency to stand trial does not relate to her mental state at the time of the crime; that subject could be raised at a later stage of the case.

“She’s been psychiatrically hospitalized multiple times, she’s been diagnosed with bipolar and psychotic. This may have been one of her better days, however, I’m very surprised at the result of this report," Defense attorney Quinn Jolly said.

The results of the second exam will be reviewed May 10.

According to the criminal complaint, police were called to a residence on Stony Brook Lane early in the morning of Feb. 23. There, police found a severed head inside a bucket in the basement.

Schabusiness said she and the victim were using drugs, including meth, and engaging in sexual play, when the man was strangled. She then sexually abused him, dismembered the body, and placed body parts in various locations in the home and a vehicle, the criminal complaint states.

"Schabusiness made the comment that at one point, she did get paranoid and lazy and that she thought it was the “dope” that was making her paranoid," the complaint states.

Police say they took Schabusiness into custody later on Feb. 23 at an Eastman Avenue residence.

Dr. Brad Smith, a medical director at Rogers Behavioral Health, conducted competency to stand trial exams for 18 years.

In part, the exam consists of gathering a variety of information.

"Sometimes that involves medical records, psychiatric records, it can involve some of the person’s background issues with the law, and even information from family, friends, or other people who might’ve known the individual," Smith said.

In addition, the examiner also assesses if the person understands the basics of court from a factual understanding.

“And then also more about their own particular case of what is their basic understanding of the charges and the possible penalties and then to a large degree, trying to assess how well somebody is going to be able to assist in their defense by using that information and how can they interact with their attorney and the court to make sure that they have adequate representation and adequate ability to assist," Smith said.

Smith says there could be differences of opinion among different examiners, especially if someone's mental state is changing over time.

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He also says someone can become competent at a later date, after certain measures are taken. That could include medication, therapy, or additional education.

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