Mickelson tries insanity defense to avoid death penalty

New tape recordings heard in Mickelson trial
Kristi O'Pry disappeared in 1996. Her body has never been found. (Source: Amy O'Pry)
Kristi O'Pry disappeared in 1996. Her body has never been found. (Source: Amy O'Pry)
Convicted of 1st degree murder: Eric Mickelson (Source: CPSO)
Convicted of 1st degree murder: Eric Mickelson (Source: CPSO)

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Testimony will continue Friday in the penalty phase of Eric Mickelson's capitol murder trial.   Found guilty as charged in the murder of 87-year-old Charles Martin, Mickelson now faces the death penalty or life in prison.

Opening statements have wrapped up Thursday morning with the revelation to the jurors of Mickelson's confession to another murder, ten years before Martin's.

Assistant Caddo District Attorney Lea Hall began the prosecution's case for the death penalty by telling the jury "Right now you think it's pretty bad.  I'm telling you it's about to get worse.  In fact, I'm getting ready to put you on an elevator straight to Hell.  I'm talking about Kristi O'Pry"

Hall went on to tell the jurors they will hear the same recordings they heard during the prosecution phase of the trial, only this time with the portions referring to O'Pry.  Hall told the jury they would hear Mickelson's confession to her murder and details of her death.

Mickelson was the prime suspect in the disappearance of Kristi O'Pry after she was reported missing in 1996.  It wasn't until his arrest in the Martin murder case, that detectives say he opened up about her death.

Mickelson allegedly confessed to killing O'Pry, telling detectives he strangled her, then disposed her body on his property.  O'Pry's body was never found, but investigators say they found enough evidence confirming Mickelson's claims to charge him with second-degree murder.

Detectives testified that when Mickelson confessed to killing O'Pry he told them he strangled her and later dismembered her body, just like Charlie Martin's.  He claimed that he put her limbs in trash bags and put some in a dumpster near an apartment complex, some in a dumpster by a day care, and her torso in a culvert.  Detectives checked the area he said her torso was years after the murder, but they could not find her body.

Following Wednesday's guilty verdict of first-degree murder in the death and dismemberment of Charles Martin, Mickelson's defense team is left with the task of convincing the jury he should get life in prison rather than be sentenced to death.

Mickelson's mother Tina and brother Christopher will be taking the stand to plea for his life.  Christopher needs a kidney, and they say Eric is willing to donate one.

The jury may also hear from Mickelson's estranged son, now 18, whom defense attorneys say wants a chance to build a relationship with his father.  In their opening arguments for the penalty phase, the defense also told the jury, "You can't take away his mental illness, but you can take away the cocaine....We believe Eric can function in a structured environment.  Angola is a structured environment."

The jury also heard victim impact statements from relatives of Charles Martin, and several could be seen crying as they listened to a recording he had made for his grandson, talking to him and playing the harmonica to get him to go to sleep.

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