Virginia Man To Plead Insanity After Allegedly Choking His Roommate To Death

| by Jonathan Constante
Steven Vander Briel.Steven Vander Briel.

A Virginia man accused of choking his roommate to death will reportedly plead an insanity defense in his murder trial.

Steven Vander Briel, 30, is accused of killing 20-year-old Grace Rebecca Mann on April 17. They were roommates at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Briel pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, strangulation and abduction. His attorney filed for an insanity defense on Dec. 15 after a psychiatrist in Virginia evaluated him, WRC-TV reported.

The attorney did not release the psychiatrist’s diagnosis of Briel.

Briel lived with Mann and two other women as a part-time student at the college. The other roommates, Holly Aleksonis and Katheryn Erwin, testified in court in June, saying that Briel told them he had killed Grace after a disagreement, WRC-TV reported at the time.

Aleksonis and Erwin reportedly came home and found Mann on the floor with a plastic bag stuffed down her throat and a plastic grocery bag around her head.

Briel was in the house at the time the roommates made the discovery. He fled the scene but was soon tracked down by authorities.

Aleksonis and Erwin said Briel was behaving strangely before the murder. Erwin testified in court that Briel sent her a text message the day of the murder, asking when they would arrive home.

Erwin also noted that Briel sent her a text message that read, “I was in (victim's roommate)'s room and I made a mess.”

She added that Briel seemed “neurotic” and “manic," according to the Daily Mail.

He also reportedly asked Erwin and Aleksonis, “What would you do if Grace wasn't here anymore and if [I] needed to move out?"

A court-order mental evaluation for Briel will most likely be ordered by the prosecution.

Sources: WRC-TV (2), The Free Lance-Star, Daily Mail / Photo credit: Daily Mail, WRC-TV