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March 28, 2002, 3:52PM
By CAROL CHRISTIAN
For the second time in a month, Harris County jurors are being asked to acquit a high-profile murder defendant on grounds of insanity.
Jon “Paul” Marsh’s attorney told jurors Wednesday that his client was under the influence of powerful anti-depressants when he killed his 14-year-old friend, Nathan Mayoral.
Marsh, 17, has pleaded not guilty to murder, citing “temporary insanity due to involuntary intoxication.” Like Andrea Pia Yates’ failed insanity defense earlier this month, the plea requires the defendant to show he did not know the wrongfulness of his actions at the time of the killing.
Marsh’s attorney, Brett Podolsky, said in his opening statement that Marsh had been prescribed Paxil and Respirdol in the months before he beat Mayoral to death March 20, 2001. And the Paxil dosage was doubled in the weeks before the killing, he said.
“Nathan Mayoral died at the hands of Paul Marsh … but we’re here to argue that Nathan Mayoral didn’t die at the mind of Paul Marsh,” Podolsky said. “Not the Paul Marsh as he sits here today, and not the Paul Marsh before he was prescribed a heavy dose of psychiatric medication.”
Mayoral’s parents reported him missing March 20. He was last seen about 7 a.m. walking to a school bus stop on Bentvine Drive in the Westlake subdivision of northwest Harris County.
Deputies originally investigated the case as a runaway until volunteers with the Laura Recovery Center found Mayoral’s decomposing body eight days later in a ditch in the 1500 block of Vander Wilt Lane, about three miles west of his home.
The body, wrapped in a sheet secured with tape, was covered by a piece of wood. The remains were not identified until two days later.
Investigators said Marsh, who lived in the same subdivision as the Mayoral family, became a suspect March 30 after fingerprints on the tape matched his.
Anthony Mayoral, the boy’s father, sobbed on the witness stand as he described his frantic eight-day search for his son as he became more certain something bad had happened.
Marsh wiped his eyes with a handkerchief, his head and shoulders bent forward, as the elder
Mayoral testified. Members of both families wept.
Allen Beall, a homicide detective with the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, testified that Marsh told him after his April 1 arrest that he had “homosexual contact” with Mayoral the day he killed him.
“He was extremely distraught over his homosexual lifestyle,” Beall said. “He said it was the worst sin. … He said he decided he needed to get away from that lifestyle. He couldn’t help himself as far as Nathan was concerned.”
Prosecutor Chuck Noll told jurors in his opening statement that Marsh persuaded Mayoral to skip school that day and come to his home. Noll said Marsh admitted taking Mayoral into his back yard to show him a wrestling hold that left the boy unconscious.
Noll said Mayoral regained consciousness briefly and asked Marsh for help. Instead, Marsh hit him on the head with the saucer from a clay flower pot and banged his head on concrete stepping stones. Marsh then got a hammer from his garage and hit Mayoral with it, Noll said. After wrapping Mayoral’s head in a plastic bag sealed with duct tape and wrapping the body in a sheet with packing tape, Marsh dumped the body in a field about 2 1/2 miles away, Noll said.
Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Sampson testified that he visited Marsh at his home on March 28, 2001, when Mayoral was still considered missing. Marsh, who was with his brother and a friend at the time, had been identified as someone who might have information on Mayoral’s whereabouts.
Sampson said Marsh did not seem to be under the influence of drugs at the time. “His demeanor was nonchalant,” Sampson said of the boy now being tried as an adult. “He
seemed more interested in looking good for his friend than in talking to us.”
Noll asked Sampson if Marsh appeared to understand what he was saying. “Completely,” Sampson said.
Marsh’s other attorney, Jerald Graber, asked Sampson if he knew what an SSRI drug (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, such as Paxil) was. Sampson said he did not.
“Is it safe to say that you never received training in the effects of SSRI drugs on juveniles?” Graber asked.
“I’d have to say no,” Sampson responded.
Prosecutors were to continue presenting their case this morning.
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Jury convicts Katy teenager in slaying of friend
By Dale Lezon
Published 5:30 am, Wednesday, April 3, 2002
<\/body>”);i.close();})();Jury convicts Katy teenager in slaying of friend – Houston Chronicle
Marsh stood with his head hanging down as state District Judge Don Stricklin read the verdict.
Marsh pleaded not guilty to murder, citing “temporary insanity due to involuntary intoxication.” He was under the influence of powerful anti-depressants at the time of the killing, according to testimony.
The two-man, 10-woman jury deliberated about two and half hours before reaching a verdict.