SAN LUIS OBISPO (CN) - A man who claimed he was a werewolf and his neighbor was a vampire was legally sane when he murdered her, a jury decided Tuesday, so Mark Andrews, 51, faces 50 years to life in prison.
Two jurors wiped away tears when a clerk announced the verdict in San Luis Obispo Superior Court. Members of Andrews' family gasped, and defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu shook his head in disappointment.
Andrews himself showed no emotion. He will be sentenced on April 21.
According to trial testimony, Andrews drove to Colleen Barga-Milbury's home on April 22, 2013 with a lever-action .30-30 rifle and shot her in the hip, then in the head. He returned to his home, put the rifle in a gun cabinet and then bought beer at a Circle K.
He was arrested two days later and pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
The jury had little difficulty determining that Andrews had killed Barga-Milbury, a 52-year-old widowed mother.
Detectives had found the murder weapon and spent shell casings that matched the fatal bullets in Andrews's bedroom.
In the sanity phase of the trial, the defense had to prove Andrews did not know what he was doing or did not know what he did was wrong at the time of the murder.
Trial testimony showed that Andrews had once played high school sports and played drums in a jazz band before graduating from Cuesta College. In 1993, Andrews, then 29, was sent to a psychiatric hospital for the first time.
Diagnosed with schizophrenia, he was involuntarily committed several times, according to psychiatric witnesses. At various times, testimony revealed, Andrews believed he was a werewolf who had fathered cubs, and also believed he was a warlock and Jesus Christ. He claimed that Martians were at his door, that he had lived through medieval times and had seen people burned at the stake.
In 2013, he told detectives, he believed the voice of God commanded him to kill Barga-Milbury.
While deputy district attorney Matt Kraut agreed that Andrews was mentally ill, the prosecutor said Andrews did not show any signs of psychosis or delusions for four years before the murder and until four months after.
On the day of the shooting, Kraut said, Andrews entered his vehicle so that no one would see him, shot Barga-Milbury twice to make sure she was dead, then went home and put the rifle back in its cabinet.
"He knew what he was doing," Kraut told jurors in his closing argument. "He stopped and he went home."
When a TV reporter interviewed him as a crime-scene neighbor the next day, Andrews said the crime was "sad" and that the culprit was an "animalistic bastard," according to the video, played for jurors.
If Andrews believed the voice of God had commanded him to kill vampires, Kraut told jurors, Andrews would have bragged "that they were safe from vampires."
Recent statistics on the success of insanity defenses are hard to come by. In San Luis Obispo County, only one insanity defense in the past five years has been successful.
Insanity defenses are difficult to win, said Lee Cunningham, assistant district attorney.
"Part of it may have to do with the fact that the burden shifts from the prosecutor to the defendant," he said.
Andrews Downs, a 20-year-old who killed two sisters on Christmas Day in 2010 was sent to Atascadero State Hospital after he was declared insane in 2012.
Andrews' late father, Jan Andrews, had been a psychiatric technician at the hospital, which is about 5 miles from Andrews' home. Barga-Milbury had worked there as a food services supervisor.
After the verdict, Andrews' attorney, Funke-Bilu, said his client needed treatment at such a facility. Instead, he'll be sent to prison, "not getting one day of help or treatment," Funke-Bilu said. "That's what's so sad about this."
After jurors filed out of the courtroom, Andrews turned to his family and offered a short shrug before he was led back to county jail.
Later, Andrews' mother sat at a courthouse cafeteria table with her head buried in her hands.
Barga-Milbury's autistic son, 17, lives with relatives on the other side of the country.
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