MOUNTAIN GATE, Calif.—A Northern California man charged with hacking two men to death with an ax used to split logs has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Thirty-five-year-old Thomas McDonald entered the plea in Shasta County Superior Court through his attorney on Tuesday.

The Record Searchlight of Redding reports (http://bit.ly/10r0LQ8) that the judge appointed a psychologist to evaluate him.

McDonald is facing first-degree murder, aggravated mayhem and other charges in the February 2012 attack on 54-year-old Karl Bradshaw and 84-year-old Ralph Gearhart Torborg in the town of Mountain Gate.

Authorities say McDonald randomly attacked the two men with a splitting maul after a disturbance at his house.

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Information from: Record Searchlight, http://redding.com