Suspect in Death of Mary Washington Student Grace Mann to Use Insanity Defense

A man accused of killing a 20-year-old student at University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia will use an insanity defense in his murder trial.

Steve Briel, 30, is charged with the April 17 slaying of Grace Mann of McLean, Virginia. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, strangulation and abduction.

Briel’s attorney filed a notice of an insanity defense on Tuesday. The defense team used a psychiatrist in Charlottesville to do the evaluation, but Briel’s attorney would not release the diagnosis.

At a hearing on Thursday, the prosecution likely will seek its own court-ordered mental evaluation of Briel.

Briel was a part-time student at Mary Washington who shared a house with Mann and two other women. He was still in the house when the two other roommates came home April 17 and discovered Mann's body.

They said Briel behaved strangely just before the discovery and had sent one of his roommates a text message that said, "I was in [victim's roommate]'s room and I made a mess."

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