LOGAN, Utah -- A Logan man pleaded innocent by reason of insanity today to charges that he stabbed his 11-month-old son to death in a sacrificial ceremony to see if God would save the child.
Rodney Lundberg entered the plea to second degree murder charges during an appearance before Judge VeNoy Christofferson. The judge will appoint two psychiatrists to examine the defendant prior to his trial.
Cache County Prosecutor Lanny Gunnell said Lundberg apparently believed God would protect his son from harm, as in the Old Testament story of Abraham and his son, Isacc. 'This is a very bizarre case,' Gunnell added Wednesday.
Lundberg was to be arraigned in First District Court today for entering his plea and the setting of a trial date.
A witness testifying in a preliminary hearing for Lundberg, 26, said the suspect admitted placing his son, Justin, on a table, clasping a butcher knife over his head and slowly lowering the weapon toward the child as he looked to heaven for strength.
Lundberg's neighbor, Brent Allen, said the accused man told him of the incident the morning of Nov. 23, 1981, before police discovered the body of young Justin Lundberg. The boy died of a stab wound to the abdomen.
Allen testified Lundberg said he 'was moved by the spirit' to test his faith, as God had tested Abraham by demanding Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac.
Allen said for about two hours early in the morning of Nov. 23, he joined the Lundbergs in a prayer vigil to heal the dying toddler.
The neighbor told the court he and his wife were awakened by Mrs. Lundberg, who asked the Allens to come upstairs to join the Lundbergs in prayer. Allen said, when he entered the Lundberg home, he saw Rodney Lundberg holding the boy in his arms.
Both were covered with blood, Allen said, and the baby appeared to be sick. Allen said Lundberg wanted to bless the child, but the father then passed out. The child was blessed twice according to ordinances of the Mormon Church, Allen said.
Allen testified he did not realize the child had been wounded at first, but later saw a 'slit' in the tot's pajamas with blood around it. He also said the child was alive during the two hours he spent praying in the Lundberg's home.