Kitti expected to plead insanity after killing sister

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette From left, Karl Numinen, attorney for Christian Kitti, and Houghton County Prosecutor Michael Makinen listen during Kitti's pretrial hearing Monday.

HOUGHTON — The Grand Rapids man accused of murdering his sister in July 2016 is expected to plead not guilty by reason of insanity in December.

Christian Kitti, 33, appeared at a preliminary hearing in Houghton County Circuit Court via videoconference Monday.

Kitti spoke from the state Center for Forensic Psychiatry, where he has been since he was originally found not competent to stand trial.

Kitti will also appear at the plea hearing in December via videoconference, after his attorney and psychiatrist argued leaving the center’s care could jeopardize his competency.

Kitti is accused of fatally shooting his sister, Kim Bess, 44, of Laurium. She had come over to mow the lawn at their parents’ house, where he was staying.

Kitti’s attorney, Karl Numinen, said he concurred with the center’s August report, which found Kitti to be legally insane. Additionally, the report said, at the time of the alleged murder, Kitti could not appreciate “the nature, quality and wrongfulness” of his actions.

Kitti was found competent to assist in his defense in August.

“My concern is if he was required to be here in person, just the transport, the interruption of the continuity of his care, might make it where he’s not able to enter a plea,” Numinen said.

Kimberly Kulp, Kitti’s treating psychiatrist at the center, said in most cases, someone treated back to the level of competency would be OK for transport. However, Kitti’s state is particularly fragile, she said.

Taking him out of the structured environment of the center could have adverse effects, Kulp said. When originally transported from the jail, she said, he was mute and wasn’t eating.

“I think if there were any hiccups in his medication regimen that there would significant decompensation pretty quickly, within days, of his psychiatric condition,” she said. “That, I would be concerned, could affect his competency.”

Numinen will travel downstate to appear with Kitti for the hearing, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. Dec. 11.