Zachary Cope is a diagnosed schizophrenic, which investigators believe triggered him to murder his mother, Rebecca Cope, 52, in December of 2016 in their Lower Makefield home.
Cope, 31, admitted to the stabbing murder, telling authorities and doctors that he stabbed his mother to death because he believed that an impostor was posing as his mother in an attempt to kill him.
The plea was accepted by Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Raymond F. McHugh, who set sentencing for March 26. McHugh said he likely would accept a recommended sentence of 10 to 40 years negotiated by Deputy District Attorney Alan J. Garabedian and Deputy Public Defender Nicholas J. Williamson.
While awaiting the sentencing, McHugh said Cope’s mental state would remain in evaluation so that the proper recommendations are made for his incarceration. A plea of guilty, but mentally-ill doesn’t have an effect on the length of sentence. The judge is required to hear testimony about the defendant’s mental state before handing down the sentence.
Cope admitted to hitting his mother with a cutting board and a frying pan before stabbing her and cutting her throat with a knife. He told police that the “impostor” asked him to rub the wood cutting board with olive oil and that his mother would never ask him to do such a thing.
After the stabbing, Cope fled several blocks to Taylorsville Road, where police found him standing in a driveway, wearing only his underwear, a small blanket, and one flip-flop in 40-degree weather. Police said Cope had blood on him, as well as scratches and cuts on his back and extremities. Police returned to the home on Lower Hilltop Road, where they found his mother dead with more than 70 stab wounds to her upper body.