HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - The West Virginia man charged with killing three coworkers at a western Maryland machine shop and then wounding a responding state trooper has pleaded not criminally responsible for mental reasons, according to court records.

Joe Louis Esquivel, 23, of Hedgesville, West Virginia, is charged with murder, attempted murder and other offences in the June 9 shooting at Columbia Machine in Smithsburg and an ensuing shootout with police. Esquivel arrived for his normal shift on June 9, then shot and killed three workers and wounded a fourth. He also shot and wounded a state trooper before he was shot himself.

In a filing last month by his assistant public defender, Esquivel asserted that he lacked the capacity at the time of the shootings to either “appreciate the criminality of the alleged conduct” or “conform that conduct to the requirements of law” due to a “mental disorder or mental retardation,” The Herald-Mail reported.

Judge Brett Wilson accepted the plea and approved the request of the assistant public defender, Brian Hutchison, for bifurcated trials so that the issues of guilt and criminal responsibility could be considered separately.

Esquivel continues to be held without bond.

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