Psychology eval requested for homicide suspect

Published 10:07 am Thursday, January 5, 2017

Mother: Man showed signs of paranoia and hallucinations

By Mary Pieper

Mason City Globe Gazette

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MASON CITY — A Lake Mills man charged with murdering two people in Mason City in November will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial.

Peter Veal, 30, was scheduled to go to trial Jan. 24 on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of the attempted murder of a witness at the scene at a residence in the 1600 block of North Hampshire Avenue.

Peter Veal

Peter Veal

However, court proceedings against him have been postponed until after an evaluation is conducted to determine if he has the mental capability to understand court proceedings and participate in his own defense.

Court officials said it could be two months or more before the results of the evaluation are available.

Veal’s mother, Leann Veal, testified during a hearing Wednesday that her son — who had been living with her for about a year when he was arrested in connection with the Nov. 17 deaths of Mason City residents Mindy Kavars and Caleb Christensen — showed many signs of paranoia and had hallucinations.

“He was always thinking someone was after him,” she said.

Leann Veal said her son accused her of trying to poison him when she put salt and pepper on his food.

When Steven Kloberdanz, one of her son’s attorneys, asked her if he would take things apart because he thought someone was spying on him, she said he would take apart remote controls and telephones.

She also said she would hear him act like he was carrying on a conversation with someone who wasn’t there.

Leann Veal said her son once called his sister and asked her to come by right away because “there was a blue angel with wings outside the door.”

She said Peter Veal was committed three years ago and taken to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa, where he stayed for three days and was then released.

He has not received any mental health treatment since, his mother testified. She also said he is not on any mental health medication.

She said when her son called her from the jail shortly after his arrest, she told him, “I’m your mother and I love you.”

She said he replied, “I’m not crazy,” and hung up.

Leann Veal said her son called her again more recently to wish her a merry Christmas.

Andrew Steenblock, Cerro Gordo County Jail administrator, testified no one on staff reported any unusual behavior from Peter Veal or any disciplinary problems with him.

He also said beyond the initial assessment every inmate receives upon entering the jail and a follow-up visit for a hand injury, neither Veal nor a staff member requested he receive any additional treatment.

Steenblock said Veal was on suicide watch for a time after being booked into the jail, but that was a precautionary measure taken due to the nature of the charges against him.

District Court Judge Rustin Davenport ruled probable cause exists for a psychiatric evaluation for Veal. He is to remain in the Cerro Gordo County Jail until bed space is available at the Iowa prison system’s Oakdale Medical and Classification Center.