A plea request made by attorneys for Billy Jo McLean — the Sanford man charged with murdering his wife and daughter in Sanford and then fleeing with his stepson before he was apprehended in Texas in 2015 — has been denied by a judge, who questioned McLean’s mental capacity to proceed in court hearings this week.
According to court files, Superior Court Judge Winston C. Gilchrist rejected a plea offer made by McLean’s defense attorneys, Steve Friedman and Robert Singagliese of Durham, on Monday. The following day, he made an order to commit McLean to Central Regional Hospital in Butner for a mental evaluation.
McLean faces two counts of first degree murder in the July 13, 2015, deaths of his wife Calandra McLean, 42, and daughter Tashonna Cameron, 13. The two were found in their burned-out apartment at 916 Clark Family Circle in Sanford, and autopsies later revealed that both had been strangled to death before the home was set on fire. A nationwide manhunt for McLean ensued after he fled the state with his then 17-year-old stepson, Tobias. Four days later, McLean was arrested at a motel in the Texas Panhandle after Tobias asked employees of a nearby diner to phone police. According to published reports, Tobias learned about the deaths of his mother and sister and the manhunt from Facebook.
In his motion to commit McLean, Judge Gilchrist wrote that the suspect had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had taken “a number of psychiatric medications” since his arrest.
“Defendant makes rambling statements on the record at court proceedings,” Gilchrist wrote. “He is charged with two counts of first degree murder by burning his alleged victims and of kidnapping a juvenile.”
Calls made to McLean’s attorneys on Thursday were not returned, and a relative of the victims said Thursday the family was not ready to make a statement on the judge’s order or the case.