Jieming Liu was charged at his arraignment Friday with the murder of Yuee Zhou, 73.
Liu appeared disoriented and was wearing a white jumpsuit with no shoes during the appearance in Westborough District Court in Westborough, just east of Shrewsbury. He was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation to determine his competency to stand trial.
His attorney, Michael Hussey, later described him as "befuddled" and in "pathetic" mental and physical condition.
In court, Worcester County prosecutor Michael McHugh said the couple's son called police to his parents' apartment on Thursday night. Police found Liu in a rocking chair with blood on his mouth, hands and face. His wife's blood-soaked body was found on a bedroom floor, with flesh missing from her left forearm. Some of her fingers were detached from her hand, McHugh said.
Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early told reporters, "It was a very gruesome scene."
Liu told Shrewsbury police that he acted in self-defense.
The couple's son told police his parents arrived from China in November. He said his mother was recently worried about the health of his father, who he thought may have Alzheimer's disease.