Kalamazoo County Circuit Judge Paul Bridenstine on Monday ordered Scott Sterffy to serve a sentence of 25 to 50 years in a state penitentiary for the 2021 slaying of 82-year-old retired oral surgeon Dr. Thomas Aye, authorities confirmed to Law&Crime.
Judge Bridenstine also sentenced Sterffy to four to 10 years in prison for mutilation of a dead body, to be served concurrent to the murder sentence.
Sterffy, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and institutionalized earlier in his life, last month entered a plea of mentally ill – no contest to the charge of second-degree murder in his father’s slaying. Authorities say that prior to being dismembered, Aye had sustained multiple blunt force trauma and stab wounds to his face, head, and body. He was also asphyxiated.
Doctors at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry had initially ruled him incompetent to stand trial, but later determined him to be competent, according to a report from Michigan-based media conglomerate MLive
Detectives with the Portage Police Department said that Aye’s body was discovered by one his daughters at approximately 7 p.m. on July 25, 2021 at his home located in the 5000 block of Glencove Court. His daughter was reportedly checking on him after he failed to show up for an appointment.
Investigators determined that Sterffy had been staying at his father’s home during the time of the killing and fled the state shortly afterward. The murder sparked a nationwide manhunt for Sterffy, who was located and taken into custody in Kalamazoo, Michigan just a few days after his father’s death.
During Monday’s sentencing hearing, Sterffy continued to maintain that he was innocent of hurting his father during a testy exchange with Judge Bridenstine.
“This was a brutal, horrific experience that your father went through,” Bridenstine said, according to the MLive report.
But Sterffy reportedly cut off the presiding judge, interrupting him to deny responsibility.
“I didn’t do it,” Sterffy reportedly responded. “I didn’t hit him in the head with a hammer, I didn’t carve his face up.”
“The court found you responsible Mr. Sterffy,” Judge Bridenstine reportedly said. “You can disagree [with] me all you want, but I found you responsible based on all the evidence that was presented.”
During the investigation, Sterffy’s sister told police that she believed her brother had stopped taking the medication for his mental health at some point in 2019, the MLive story said.
Aye’s obituary noted that his son had struggled with such mental health issues.
“He silently and without complaint carried the burden of his son’s mental illness; he simply wanted his son to feel loved, to be cared for, and to have the opportunity to live a full life,” the obituary reads. “He lived with the sadness of [his wife] Judy’s death and his son’s illness without ever thinking life was unfair. Instead, he leaned into his own hardships as access to empathy for others, often proving safe harbor to those in need.”
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