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Archive for Friday, September 3, 2004

Cannibal killer gets life term

September 3, 2004

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— A man who was convicted of killing three acquaintances and eating the flesh of one of his victims was sentenced Thursday to life in prison.

Marc V. Sappington, 25, was convicted in July on three counts of first-degree murder and one count each of kidnapping and aggravated burglary stemming from a carjacking.

Wyandotte County District Judge J. Dexter Burdette sentenced Sappington to three life terms for the murders; he will not be eligible for parole for 75 years. He also was sentenced to 6 1/2 years for kidnapping and 2 1/2 years for aggravated burglary. The sentences are to run consecutively.

"You are the closest thing to a homicide time-bomb there is," Burdette told Sappington. "There is no way I am going to endanger the community again."

Sappington told the judge the killings were motivated by a "will to live."

At trial, jurors watched a taped confession in which Sappington said voices he heard while high on the hallucinogenic drug PCP told him he had to eat flesh and blood or he would die. His victims -- Terry T. Green, 25; Michael Weaver Jr., 22; and Alton "Fred" Brown Jr., 16 -- were killed over a four-day span in April 2001. All were from Kansas City, Kan.

"Just because I don't display feelings don't mean I don't have them," Sappington told the judge Thursday as he apologized for the crimes.

Police said Sappington cut up Brown's body, then cooked and ate a small amount of his flesh. Sappington had planned to freeze the rest of the body and eat it later. Brown's body was the only one cannibalized.

Brown's mom, Tammy Saunders, told Burdette that Sappington had betrayed his entire neighborhood.

"He didn't have any mercy, and I ask you not to show any mercy on him," she said. She held a framed picture of her son taken two years before his death. The relatives of other victims also displayed photos during the sentencing hearing.

Sappington's attorney, Patricia Aylward Kalb, said her client was mentally ill when he killed but is now taking medication. His mother, Mary White, had schizophrenia, and Sappington began suffering from the same disease when he was about 16 years old.

"I'm not saying he should be forgiven," she said. "I know he feels remorse and does not believe he is the same person that did these things."

Prosecutors, however, said it was Sappington's PCP use -- not mental illness -- that caused him to hear voices.

"I think the relatives who have spoken are absolutely right," said assistant district attorney Jerome Gorman. "He has abused the system and showed no remorse whatsoever."

Twice last year it was determined that Sappington was not mentally competent to help his own defense, both times after he had quit taking medication before his trial was to begin.

The case was among the first in the country subject to requirements in a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year on when a state can forcibly medicate a defendant. The court ruled that a state can't medicate an inmate solely to make that person competent to stand trial. One of the approved conditions for involuntarily medicating an inmate is when the person is considered dangerous.

Sappington also is charged with murder in the unrelated slaying of David Mashak, 25, of Kansas City, Kan., who died March 16, 2001, during an attempted robbery at an automobile detailing shop. That case is expected to go to trial on Sept. 27.

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