Man charged in 3 Ariz. killings acts odd in court

March 22, 2012 - 8:35 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — A man suspected of killing a man in Phoenix and a couple in the picturesque suburb of Paradise Valley refused to say his own name in court on Thursday and then squawked like a bird.

Michael Lee Crane was in Maricopa County Superior Court on Thursday for a hearing about his mental capacity to stand trial when he started acting bizarrely.

Crane, 31, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder in the killings of Bruce Gaudet on Jan. 26 and of Lawrence and Glenna Shapiro on Jan. 30 in separate robberies.

The Shapiros were well-to-do philanthropists in their 70s whose bodies were found tied up and burned beyond recognition in their stylish Paradise Valley home. Gaudet's body was found inside his burning Phoenix condo; he had been shot to death.

Crane smiled widely at people in the courtroom Thursday as detention officers pushed him in a wheelchair. He had complained that his right leg was hurting, although he refused medical attention, the sheriff's office said.

When court Commissioner Michael Hintze asked Crane to say his full name, Crane paused for a long time before saying that his name should be written in paperwork in capitalized letters, making him a corporation rather than an individual.

Crane said he wasn't being a "smart aleck" before Hintze simply confirmed Crane's identity with his attorney and the officers.

As he was being wheeled out, Crane let out a loud noise that sounded like a bird squawk.

Hintze postponed Crane's competency hearing until April 19.