By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Kelley loaded the jury with women in the belief that they'll instinctively favor the young man over his older gay victim. In legal briefs, Pisarcik now claims he didn't go home with Leggs to rob or kill him but for "consensual sodomy." The homicide was the "unintentional" result of a moment of "passion" spurred by "something" Leggs allegedly said after their sexual encounter.
To bolster his assertion, Pisarcik is letting Kelley argue that he's "borderline retarded" from childhood traumas such as accidentally hitting his head on a toilet when he was a tot and living with a "tyrant" father who called him a "faggot." He has also told a psychologist that at age 9 an 11-year-old pal forced him to engage in mutual sex and that at 10 he crashed his bicycle into a tree, perhaps debilitating him mentally. According to Kelley, these experiences helped make Pisarcik a drug addict "who couldn"t figure out how to live."
Closing arguments are expected this week, but prosecutor Murphy hasn't hidden his contempt for the defense strategy. If jurors feel pity and convict Pisarcik of a lesser offense such as manslaughter (in effect, saying the killing was wrong but with extenuating circumstances), he could be freed from state prison in a decade -- or less. Kelley thinks such a punishment is about right. He says the case isn't about first-degree murder. "It's about demons and drugs and desperation," he told jurors. His evidence, he says, is in the crime-scene photos, the beige carpet and white walls gone almost black with blood, the face and body straining against white athletic socks, the unopened Moet & Chandon that was used to hammer at the victim's skull, the missing ears, the plunged flashlight, the smiling ceramic angel and the murderer's hand-written note on his victim's skin: FAGS DIE. You look at all that, Kelley says, and you have to ask a question: "If you wanted to rob somebody, why go through all that?"