Two years ago, Jonathan Robert Meline was accused of trying to kill a man with a car. He was found mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Two days ago, Pierce County prosecutors say, Meline, 29, killed his father with a hatchet, walked two miles to the Pierce County Jail to turn himself in, and told police detectives he felt better about things.
Detectives searched a home in 900 block of North Union Street and found Melines 56-year-old father, Robert, dead in his bed with a multitude of head wounds."
Meline was charged Friday with first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty. He wore shackles and a green garment reserved for prisoners on suicide watch. Bail was set at $2 million. At the request of prosecutors, Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered a psychological evaluation to determine Melines mental competence.
At the time of his arrest, Meline told detectives hed planned the killing for four months. On June 22, he told his father he was going to kill him. On June 23, Meline bought a hatchet.
Wednesday, he ate dinner with his family, charging papers say. Meline meant to kill his father after dinner, but his father left the house for a while. Meline was tired, so he slept.
At 2 a.m., Meline woke up, drank some coffee and walked to his fathers room. The hatchet was hidden in a backpack. His father woke up and asked Meline what he was doing. Meline said he was looking for something.
Melines sister (unnamed in charging documents) woke at 2:30 a.m. She heard thumps on the ceiling, and her fathers voice. She heard her brother Jonathan yelling, Die, die, die!"
She got dressed and moved toward the stairs. Her brother was coming down, holding a hatchet covered in blood.
She asked him not to kill her, charging papers state. He said he wouldnt he wanted to turn himself in. Brother and sister walked to the jail in the dark.
Fridays arraignment felt familiar because it was. The same thing happened two years ago without the killing.
In the 2010 incident, Meline had tried to run down a salesman at a car dealership, according to court records. Later cornered by Tacoma police officers, Meline had said, Im in line with the Illuminati."
He was charged with first-degree robbery after that incident, but two stints at Western State Hospital ended with the same result: a finding of incompetence.
Meline was diagnosed with chronic paranoid schizophrenia, court records state.
In my opinion, the defendants delusional beliefs continue to render him incapable of rationally assisting defense counsel, psychologist Gregg Gagliardi wrote in 2011. This defendant has little prior criminal history. He does however have a history of dangerous, life-threatening behavior during the acute phase of his mental disorder. Despite treatment he continues to experience fixed paranoid delusional beliefs about the illuminati that motivated his actions at the time of the alleged crimes. He is likely to act on these beliefs again."
That assessment created a dilemma. Meline wasnt competent to stand trial; prosecutors were forced to dismiss the robbery charges. Meline was civilly committed to Western State in September of last year, reportedly for 180 days.
Charging papers state Meline was released to his parents in January. The basis for that decision was unclear Friday, but the charging papers said prosecutors werent notified.
Deputy prosecutor Phil Sorenson said there was no requirement in law to notify the prosecutors office of Melines release but it might have been helpful to know, given his history.
Obviously, wed like to know whats going on with people weve dismissed on, he said. Certainly if theyre going to be released into the community, wed at least like to know that."
In theory, Meline will return to court Nov. 9 after a competency evaluation. In practice, Sorenson said, the process usually takes longer.
Robert Meline taught sixth grade at Camas Prairie Elementary School in Spanaway. He joined the Bethel School District in 1988.
Rob definitely made a difference, an impact in the lives of many children in the Bethel community, district spokeswoman Krista Carlson said. He will be deeply missed."
Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486
Staff writer Stacia Glenn contributed to this report.