A Florida man who killed a vagrant with an ax and ate his brain and eyes has been committed to a maximum-security psychiatric hospital in Connecticut after being found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Tyree Lincoln Smith, 36, of Lynn Haven, Fla., was ordered committed Monday by a three-judge panel in Bridgeport Superior Court. The panel in July found him not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
Smith apologized for killing Angel Gonzalez, whose mutilated body was found in a vacant apartment in Bridgeport in January 2012, a month after he was hacked to death.
"I'm really sorry for what I did, that I couldn't be myself," Smith told the judges. "It really had nothing to do with the other person."
The apology surprised relatives of Gonzalez who were in the courtroom, the Connecticut Post reported.
"We waited two years to hear Tyree say he was sorry," said Talitha Frazier, who wore a T-shirt with Gonzalez's photograph. "What he said today caught me off-guard, but I feel he meant what he said."
Judges John Kavanewsky, John Blawie and Maria Kahn were urged by a prosecutor and social worker to protect society from Smith.
"He poses a significant danger to himself and the community," psychiatric social worker Julie Jacobs testified.
State's Attorney John Smriga added, "I am concerned there is an expectation he would do this to other people if he was allowed to be free."
Smith, who grew up in Bridgeport and Ansonia, Conn., was committed to the Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown.
His cousin, Nicole Rabb, testified in July that she saw Smith on one evening in December 2011 carrying a bloody ax and chopsticks and wearing pants that appeared to have blood on them. She said Smith told her he killed a man with the ax, ate his brain and eyeballs and drank sake in a local cemetery.
A psychiatrist testified that Smith heard voices that told him to eat Gonzalez's brain to better understand human behavior and eat his eyes to gain vision into the "spiritual realm."