A 24-year-old Medford man who allegedly bludgeoned his mother to death with an ax last month admitted to the gruesome slaying in a tear-filled phone call with his grandmother, according to prosecutors and court documents.
Sean Farrell pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and was ordered held without bail during his arraignment Friday at First District Court in Central Islip.
His 45-year-old mother, Bonnie Farrell, was a nurse at Angela’s House, a nonprofit that assists children with special needs.
Assistant District Attorney Raphael Pearl requested that Farrell be remanded to Suffolk County jail, arguing that Farrell is a flight risk because he allegedly fled the scene of the Dec. 9 murder and checked himself into Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan.
The judge approved Farrell’s attorney’s request that Farrell be put on suicide watch because his client suffers from “some form of schizophrenia,” said his defense attorney, Daniel Russo.
“Anytime you put a 24-year-old kid into the Riverhead Correctional Facility who’s never been there before, who is charged with a crime like this, it’s to err on the side of caution,” Russo told reporters outside the courtroom.
About a dozen people, including Farrell’s stepfather, Eric Connelly, who called 911 after finding his wife’s dead body in their bedroom, gathered in the courtroom to witness the arraignment.
It’s unclear if they were friends, family, or both. Farrell’s stepfather declined to comment afterward. The couple also have five other children.
Prosecutors accused Farrell of “intentionally” striking his mother several times with an ax at their Norway Pine Drive home last month, according to court documents.
Both prosecutors and Russo said Farrell admitted himself into Bellvue Hospital after the incident, though they did not say when or how long he was hospitalized.
Farrell has no criminal record.
Pearl told the judge that Farrell gave an admission to a family member after the alleged murder. Russo argued that the statements were “based on hearsay” and that authorities have not provided any evidence linking his client to the crime.
The alleged admission was based on a Dec. 15 phone call to his 69-year-old grandmother that Farrell made from the hospital, according to the grandmother’s sworn statement to police.
“He told me he killed his mom, my daughter and that he was selfish and should have killed himself,” Farrell’s grandmother told a Suffolk County police detective inside his parked car one day after the phone call.
“Sean told me he was scared and confused,” she said, according to court documents. “He was crying and I told him to talk to his doctors who would help him.”
The grandmother told police that her caller ID said the incoming call was placed from Bellevue Hospital. He also inquired about how his two brothers were handling their mother’s death, according to the sworn statement.
“He was saying other things but he was crying and I could not understand him,” she said. “I began crying also and we hung up.”
Russo characterized Farrell as “calm, scared” before the arraignment. He told reporters that he did not have information regarding Farrell’s relationship with his late mother.