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Centerville man charged with shooting neighbor over 'telepathic' rapes pleads guilty

Published January 15, 2013 12:28 am

Courts • Selleneit deemed competent, changes his plea.
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After being ruled competent to stand trial for shooting his neighbor, whom he claimed was telepathically raping his wife, a Centerville man has changed his plea in connection with the 2011 incident.

Michael Selleneit, 54, pleaded guilty to attempted murder and illegally possessing a firearm last week in 2nd District Court. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 28.

In October 2011, Selleneit shot and wounded 41-year-old Tony Pierce, who was working in the yard outside his home at 555 N. 400 West. Selleneit believed he was acting in self-defense when he shot his neighbor, claiming Pierce had threatened him "telepathically" and had "telepathically raped" his wife many times, according to police.

Reports from mental health evaluators have been split on whether Selleneit was competent to stand trial on the charges. But in September, Judge Thomas Kay ruled that the state statute requires a defendant to be able to understand the charges against him and assist in his defense, and Selleneit was capable of doing both.

Selleneit has been diagnosed with an organic brain disorder and he has "periodic delusional thought process, poor judgment [and] poor impulse control," according to court documents. As a teenager, Selleneit suffered a brain injury in a car crash, and doctors have said he is "mentally ill and very likely will be the rest of his life," court documents state.

According to previous testimony, Selleneit believed Pierce was having sex parties with his wife and was using crack cocaine to control her mind.

Selleneit's wife, 54-year-old Melony Toone Selleneit, is charged with illegally buying the weapon for her husband and then urging him to shoot the victim. She has been at the Utah State Hospital, and is scheduled for a competency review in April.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller