Isaiah Kalebu told jurors in his murder and rape trial Wednesday that he targeted his "enemies" the night two women were brutally attacked and one was killed nearly two years ago.
Isaiah Kalebu told jurors in his murder and rape trial Wednesday that he targeted his “enemies” the night two women were brutally attacked and one killed nearly two years ago.
Appearing for the first time before the jury in his 3 ½-week trial, Kalebu was asked by defense attorney Ramona Brandes whether he had any knowledge of the July 24, 2009, attack in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood.
“I was there and I was told by my God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to attack enemies,”Kalebu said. “I followed the instructions by God.”
As Kalebu spoke, the surviving victim of the attack sat only feet away. Earlier this month, she testified that Kalebu raped, tortured and stabbed her and her domestic partner, Teresa Butz, during a 90-minute attack in their home.
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Butz, 39, who ran naked and screaming from the home after jumping out a window, later died.
But Kalebu’s testimony was quickly cut short when the trial judge banned his lawyers from questioning him about his history of mental illness. The 25-year-old man spoke to jurors for only a few minutes before he was led out of the courtroom.
Kalebu has been previously banned from the courtroom by the trial judge and ordered to watch the proceedings over a closed-circuit TV feed because of curse-filled outbursts during pretrial hearings. The judge allowed Kalebu to testify Wednesday after he agreed to behave himself while on the stand.
For his singular appearance before the jury Kalebu was strapped to a wheelchair to keep him from lunging at anyone. He was also required to to wear puffy white mitts to keep him from swallowing objects and outfitted with an electroshock device, which would allow courtroom security to zap him if he becomes a threat.
At one point while he was on the stand, Kalebu had loosened one of the mitts and had attempted to remove the electroshock device.
Just before Superior Court Judge Michael Hayden barred Kalebu from talking about his mental-health history, jurors heard Brandes ask Kalebu if he has ever been diagnosed with a mental illness — to which he answered yes. But the jury was told by Hayden to disregard the response.
Hayden has weighed Kalebu’s mental competency several times since his arrest and in most instances, including Wednesday morning, he deemed him fit to stand trial.
Deputy Prosecutor James Konat, in his closing argument Wednesday afternoon, recounted the horrific pain and violence the two victims suffered.
He said the women complied with Kalebu’s demands because he promised not to hurt them after sneaking into their home through an open window.
“I’m asking you to convict the defendant because he did it,” Konat said. “How can I not find the defendant was acting with premeditation?”
He asked jurors to find Kalebu guilty of five counts including aggravated murder, which will result in an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Defense attorney Michael Schwartz, in his closing argument, tried to poke holes in the testimony of DNA analysts and Seattle police. Not once during the trial did Schwartz tell jurors that Kalebu was innocent.
Schwartz told jurors that they have the option of finding Kalebu guilty of second-degree murder, which lacks the element of premeditation.
Jurors briefly started deliberating on Wednesday and will return to the King County Courthouse to continue deliberating Thursday morning.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.