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Long IslandSuffolk

Mental evaluation ordered for Babylon man accused of fatally stabbing mother

Joseph Kearns, who was arrested and charged in

Joseph Kearns, who was arrested and charged in the stabbing death of his mother, leaves the Third Precinct in Bay Shore Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014. Credit: Ed Betz

A Babylon man accused of fatally stabbing his mother and severely wounding his sister Friday morning was ordered held without bail Saturday on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree assault after his arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip on Saturday.

Joseph Kearns, 33, wearing a dark blue jumpsuit during his arraignment before Judge Paul M. Hensley, appeared calm and showed little emotion as he interrupted the proceedings several times to speak and ask questions.

Kearns was arrested on Friday in Southards Pond Park, a few blocks from the Livingston Avenue home where he stabbed his mother, Mina, 79, and sister, Kathleen, 59, police said. All three lived in the home. When his sister called police, Kearns fled.

After Kearns was detained by police, Assistant District Attorney Raphael Pearl said Kearns admitted to stabbing his mother and sister, and said he believed they were dead.

Kathleen remains in critical but stable condition at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, Pearl said, adding that Kearns had injuries to his hands as well as blood covering his body.

"We believe we have a very strong case," Pearl said.

Kearns' court-appointed lawyer, Thomas Foy, said his client has no prior arrests and is on disability for a mental illness. When Hensley asked what his mental illness was, Kearns said simply he has "mental problems."

During one of several outbursts in court, Kearns said: "I didn't make any threats. My parents just called police." But later in the proceedings, he told the judge "what I did was absolutely wrong."

After multiple outbursts, Hensley ordered a mental evaluation for Kearns.

"Does this mean the end of my life?" Kearns responded. Hensley explained that Kearns faces 50 years in prison and asked multiple times if he understood the charges against him.

"But because of my mental illness, if I improve somehow, will I get out?" Kearns asked.

Pearl and Foy each said they did not know the nature of Kearns' mental illness or the motive for the attack.

Several of Kearns' neighbors said Joseph was one of two young brothers adopted by the Kearns more than 30 years ago. The neighbors, asking not to be identified, said the family included nine biological children and children who had been adopted over the years.

A Newsday death notice in April 2000 for Joseph Kearns, the father, said the couple had 12 children. Police said it was their understanding that Joseph Kearns, the son, was adopted, but said they had no other details.

Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer, commanding officer of the Homicide Squad, said police had responded to a call about 7:20 a.m. Friday from Kathleen Kearns, "who stated that her brother had stabbed her and possibly killed the mother, their mother."

Beyrer said police had first been called to the home at 4:30 p.m. Thursday about a dispute involving Joseph Kearns and his mother. Officers searched the area but could not find the son.

Later on Thursday, Beyrer said, Joseph Kearns was reported to be in Lindenhurst, but police again were unable to find him.

"At the time he was not wanted for anything. It was just to check on his condition," Beyrer said.

He said there were no threats or violence involved in Thursday's call. "There was some issue with whether Joseph was taking his medication," Beyrer said. He said he did not know why the man was taking medication.

Neighbors said that Mina Kearns was a daily churchgoer, attending St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church on North Carll Avenue.

With Robert Brodsky

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