Man who took businessman hostage at Three Gateway Center sentenced


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A man diagnosed with mental illness who took a hostage in a Downtown office building last year will spend the next six to 15 years in prison.

Klein Michael Thaxton, 23, pleaded guilty to all three counts against him -- kidnapping, aggravated assault and terroristic threats.

He was sentenced as part of a negotiated deal by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen.

According to police, Thaxton, who was off his medication for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, rode a bicycle from Beechview to Downtown on Sept. 21, carrying two weapons in a plastic bag.

He entered 3 Gateway Center and held a businessman hostage in his office for nearly six hours -- repeatedly threatening him with a serrated knife.

The ordeal ended after police negotiators played recorded messages for Thaxton from his mother, younger sister and ex-girlfriend.

During his plea hearing, Thaxton made no statement, and no witnesses were called by Assistant District Attorney Jennifer DiGiovanni.

She did note, however, that the victim in the case was in agreement with the plea deal.

The guilty plea in the case was originally scheduled for May 23, but it was delayed when the judge ordered Thaxton to undergo a behavioral evaluation.

Kirsha Weyandt, who represented Thaxton, said she anticipates his mental health treatment will continue during incarceration.

"I'm just grateful the district attorney and I were able to work together to come to a resolution," she said.

Thaxton was charged last month with attacking another inmate at the Allegheny County Jail, where police said he created an 8-inch shank out of plastic and a 10-foot, 6-inch rope out of cloth sheeting.

In that case, he is charged with assault by a prisoner, unlawful restraint and possession of weapons or implements for escape.

Thaxton waived his preliminary hearing, and the case is now scheduled for formal arraignment next month.

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Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620. First Published August 14, 2013 6:15 PM


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