KANSAS CITY, KAN. A 25-year-old man was convicted Friday of murdering three acquaintances, including a teenager whose body was dismembered and partially eaten.
Jurors in Wyandotte County District Court deliberated about an hour before finding Marc V. Sappington guilty on the murder charges, as well as one count each of kidnapping and aggravated burglary stemming from a separate carjacking.
Sappington had claimed that voices ordered him to act when he killed Terry T. Green, 25, Michael Weaver Jr., 22, and Alton "Fred" Brown Jr., 16, during a four-day span in April 2001. All of the victims were from Kansas City, Kan.
Prosecutors were seeking three consecutive terms of 50 years without possibility of parole and said sentencing was likely within three or four weeks.
In a confession taped April 12, 2001 -- and played for the jury Wednesday -- Sappington talked about killing Green and leaving his body in a car in Kansas City, Mo.; stabbing Weaver to death on the morning of April 10; and shooting Brown in the back a few hours later and dismembering his body. He said he cooked and ate a small part of Brown's leg.
Sappington said on the video that voices in his head told him he had to eat flesh and blood or he would die -- voices he only heard when he was high on PCP.
Presenting his defense on Friday, Sappington's attorney said the defendant's family had a history of mental illness. His mother, Mary White, had schizophrenia for most of her son's life, attorney Patricia Aylward Kalb told the jury.
She said Sappington began suffering from schizophrenia when he was about 16 years old, and it got worse as he grew older.
"He was in a constant struggle from a very early age between good and evil," Kalb said during closing arguments. "He thought this was something he was commanded to do."
She said one symptom of schizophrenia was hearing voices and seeing things that weren't there.
"Everybody would like to have somebody pay when something bad happens," Kalb said. But because of Sappington's mental illness, she said, he needs to be cared for in a hospital, rather than be locked up in prison.
"He was going through hell," Kalb said.
But Wyandotte County Assistant Dist. Atty. Jerry Gorman said it was Sappington's use of the hallucinogenic drug PCP -- not mental illness -- that caused him to hear voices. Sappington has admitted that he used PCP almost daily basis in the months prior to killing the three men.
"These killings are because of his drug usage and not because of some disease called schizophrenia," Gorman said Friday.
Sappington still faces another murder trial for the March 16, 2001, shooting death of David Mashak in Kansas City, Kan.