Finding Jesus in the OC Jail

The 28-year-old killer blew kisses to a witness in his trial, snorted at testimony and chuckled when an Orange County jury found him guilty last November of one of the most gruesome hate crimes in California history.

But between the trial and his March 24 sentencing, Gregory Michael Pisarcik—the party animal/gay prostitute/tree trimmer who tortured, mutilated, robbed and then murdered a gay man in 2002—experienced an epiphany: there was nothing funny about his own fate.

To distance himself from a crime scene that made veteran homicide detectives nauseated, Pisarcik followed the path of an army of incarcerated troubled souls before him. He declared that he found Jesus in the Orange County Jail. The New Jersey native now considers himself a Christian.

Long gone, Pisarcik claims, is the psycho who made Narciso P. Leggs' final minutes on earth a living hell by tying up the nude man, bludgeoning him, slicing off both ears, urinating on him, stomping on his testicles, shoving a flashlight deep into his rectum and then writing "FAGS DIE" on his back. His work amused him, he later happily confessed. He placed a smiling ceramic angel next to the epitaph and then—nude himself and still covered in blood—went to the refrigerator for something to eat.

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Orange County sheriff's homicide detective Dan Salcedo, who worked the crime scene and interviewed a remorseless Pisarcik after the killing, concluded he'd met "the devil himself."
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This devil is loved and admired. A 43-year-old woman, whom we won't identify to save her the embarrassment, pleaded for mercy with Superior Court Judge Frank Fasel. She wanted the judge to ignore the murder when contemplating punishment.

"Gregory has one of the biggest hearts I've ever known," wrote the single mother of three. "He holds a lot of pain from his childhood and unfortunately it has come out in a very harmful way. But he is not a monster. He is a great person. He has so much compassion and love to give. Gregory is one of the most amazing people I know and my life without him would have a huge gaping hole in my heart and most likely I would bleed to death . . . To know Gregory is to love Gregory!"

The woman, who is remarkable for her girth, sat in the courtroom throughout the trial and received nothing more than an occasional weak smile or nod from the tall, fit Pisarcik. Though 90 percent of the time she's known him he's been incarcerated, she calls herself his fiance. She cried when the verdict was announced. An hour later, she was still standing in the courthouse hallway suggesting justice had been thwarted.

Back in reality, the question remains: Why did our criminal justice system ignore this monster until he killed?

In the six years leading up to the murder of Leggs, Pisarcik was arrested at least nine times—often for violent offenses. In Huntington Beach, he ate at a Denny's, left without paying, and then slugged and threatened to kill the waiter who chased him. His crime spree included burglary, robbery, carjacking, conspiracy, criminal mischief, grand theft, assault on a Costa Mesa cop, auto theft—twice—and possession of marijuana, black tar heroin and methamphetamine.

In all but one case, officials let Pisarcik off with a fine or weak probation, which he routinely flouted.

But hints of the looming disaster were literally written on the wall. He left New Jersey in 1999, saying he needed to start over in California. He celebrated his first year in California by burglarizing a house on New Year's Eve. He left chilling messages on three walls, including: "I'm out here all by myself all alone ready to blow my head off. I hurt so bad inside. I wish you could see the world through my eyes."

His second message: "Why do I have a conscious [sic]? All it does is fuck with me."

And his last message: "A criminal mind is more than an image. Oh, yeah. Happy New Year, Motha Fucka."

Between his November conviction and March sentencing, Pisarcik tried to soften his image. Once his New Jersey high school's popular class clown and baseball enthusiast, he told probation officers that drugs, homosexuals and crappy parents produced his rage. He also shared his fear that prison inmates would see him as weak.

"I am a very emotional person," he said. He claimed he finally recognized his mistakes. He even has dreams of mastering woodworking and writing books for children.

"The things I've done I've been denying to myself," he wrote to Judge Fasel before punishment. "I wish I could take it all back . . . I've prayed and asked the Lord to forgive me for all the things I've done."

But Fasel wasn't in the mood to forgive. He lectured Pisarcik that he'd wasted an innocent life and now his own. "You chose your path," the judge said.

He then sentenced a stoic Pisarcik to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Before deputies hauled the killer away, Fasel punctuated his desire that Pisarcik never roam free again. And then he modified his sentence: life plus two years.RSCOTTMOXLEY@OCWEEKLY.COM

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