Teen charged with beheading his mother won’t face death penalty

18-year-old Oliver Mauricio Funes Machada
18-year-old Oliver Mauricio Funes Machada Franklin County Sheriff's Office

The teen accused of beheading his mother in Franklin County will not face the death penalty, prosecutors say.

Oliver Funes-Machado, 18, was arrested in March at the family home on Morgan Drive, off Carlyle Road northeast of Zebulon and charged with first-degree murder. The charge carries the possibility of death, but on Tuesday Ninth District Attorney Michael Waters said his office will not be seeking capital punishment.

“We like to make a decision as early as practical whether to proceed as a capital case or not,” Waters said.

Franklin County Sheriff Kent Winstead told reporters in March that Funes-Machado called 911 to report the killing and stayed on the phone until deputies arrived.

When a deputy got to the home, Winstead said, Funes-Machado walked out of the house holding the head of his mother, Yesenia Funes Beatriz Machado, 35, in one hand and what appeared to be a large butcher knife in the other.

In an application for a warrant to search the house, Detective A.R. Roberts of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office wrote that Funes-Machado told dispatchers that “he stabbed her ‘like 8 times’ and left the knife in her mouth.”

Roberts wrote that Funes-Machado told dispatchers that he had killed his mother “because I felt like it,” and told dispatchers that his 4-year-old sister and 2-year-old brother were in the home at the time.

After Funes-Machado was arrested without incident, deputies got a search warrant, and found bloody clothing and shoe prints; a large, blood-covered kitchen knife; and medication used to treat psychosis and schizophrenia. Investigators say they think the prescriptions belonged to Funes-Machado, according to the warrant.

Waters said that Funes-Machado’s mental health was the most significant contributing factor in the decision to not seek the death penalty.

“It did not seem appropriate in light of our concerns about his mental health at the time this crime was committed,” Waters said.

Funes-Machado is being held at Central Prison in Raleigh.

Both the state and defense attorneys will have Funes-Machado’s mental health evaluated, Waters said. The evaluations have not taken place, and will take several months to complete.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox said that Funes-Machado is from Honduras and was living in the United States illegally when he was arrested.

The federal agency filed what’s called a detainer for Funes-Machado. A detainer does not infringe on criminal charges or proceedings against Funes-Machado, but requires law enforcement to notify ICE if he is being released so he can be put in the agency’s custody, Cox said.