By ED TRELEVEN
Wisconsin State Journal

MADISON, Wis. — The jury that found Darrick Anderson guilty last week of first-degree intentional homicide for a downtown Madison stabbing death in March rejected Anderson’s insanity defense Wednesday, finding he did not have a mental illness at the time.

Anderson, 24, stabbed and slashed Andrew Nesbitt, formerly of Menominee, 76 times in Nesbitt’s North Butler Street apartment on March 27. With the jury’s finding that he wasn’t insane when he killed Nesbitt, Dane County Circuit Judge John Hyland sentenced Anderson to life in prison. Hyland will determine at a later date when, if ever, Anderson would be eligible for release from prison on extended supervision.

A group of Nesbitt’s family and friends, who gathered in two rows of seats in the courtroom and have watched the entire trial, gasped and wept after Hyland read the verdict.

On Oct. 6, the jury found Anderson guilty of Nesbitt’s murder in the first phase of a two-phase trial. After three days of testimony and argument this week, the 11-person jury decided after about four hours of deliberation that Anderson did not have a mental disease or defect. Had it found that Anderson was mentally ill, the jury would have answered a second question which asked whether the mental illness caused Anderson to lack the capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions or obey the law.

The jury was down to 11 people after one juror became ill on Tuesday morning and was unable to continue. State law allows fewer than 12 jurors to decide the insanity phase of trials. Only 10 members of the jury needed to agree on a verdict in the insanity phase and in Anderson’s case, there was one dissenting juror.

Hyland allowed Anderson a chance to speak before imposing the life sentence, but Anderson’s lawyer, Tim Kiefer, said that Anderson would wait to make a statement until the extended supervision hearing, when Anderson also will be sentenced on six accompanying misdemeanor convictions.

Kiefer said in his closing argument that testimony from Anderson’s mother and sister showed that he long suffered from delusions and paranoia, and a psychologist testifying on behalf of the defense, Dr. James Freiburger, found that Anderson suffers from schizophrenia and another psychotic disorder. He was not being treated for either condition.

Kiefer said Anderson’s mental illness erupted on March 27 when Anderson stabbed Nesbitt, 46, to death after meeting him at a West Washington Avenue convenience store, believing that he had to do it in order to go on living.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Moeser said Kiefer was asking the jury to guess that Anderson was mentally ill at the time. The prosecution’s expert witness, Dr. Erik Knudson, a psychiatrist, said that he couldn’t say that Anderson is schizophrenic, based on the two-hour exam he had with Anderson and on videos of Anderson’s interactions with police and others. He said Anderson’s drug use also clouded his ability to determine whether Anderson had a mental illness.

Anderson told Knudson that he felt betrayed and used by Nesbitt after a sexual encounter and “spazzed out,” killing him. Moeser said temporary insanity is not recognized by Wisconsin law.

Moeser said there was ample evidence that Anderson knew that killing Nesbitt was wrong and took steps to conceal his involvement, including disposing of the knife, which has never been found.

Also, Moeser told jurors, Anderson self-treated severe hand wounds he suffered while stabbing Anderson by wrapping his hand in socks, avoiding treatment to the point where he nearly passed out from blood loss, because he knew police might be called if he went to a clinic. And he was evasive with Madison police detectives about his whereabouts the night Nesbitt was killed.

“He knew enough to lie to the detectives because he knew what he did was wrong,” Moeser said. “He knew enough to hide what he did and conceal things.”