Hickory murderer sentenced

A Hickory man will spend at least 15 years in prison for the 2009 bludgeoning murder of a 70-year-old man at an assisted living center.

On Thursday, Dennis Edward Scherzer pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Roland Simmons at Hickory's Walden Assisted Living Center.

The murder occurred in July 2009, when Hickory Police Department investigators found Simmons unconscious with severe head trauma.

Hickory police said Scherzer, another Walden House resident, beat Simmons in the head with a steel pipe.

In February 2011, Scherzer underwent a mental evaluation at Central Regional Hospital in Raleigh, where doctors determined he displayed a "grossly disorganized" thought process and paranoid delusions. He allegedly told doctors that voices in his head spurred him to kill Simmons.

Scherzer allegedly said he thought Simmons was the devil.

Scherzer was taken to Broughton Hospital in Morganton on Feb. 24, 2011.

Superior Court Judge Robert C. Ervin ruled that same day that Scherzer didn't have the mental capacity to stand trial and needed treatment for mental illness.

Now, Scherzer will be transported to Central Prison in Raleigh for processing.