Jurors expected to begin deliberating twice-convicted killer's fate Friday

Jurors expected to begin deliberating twice-convicted killer's fate Friday
Eric Mickelson, 46 (Source: Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office)
Eric Mickelson, 46 (Source: Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office)

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The jury must decide whether Mickelson should receive a life sentence or return to Louisiana's death row, where he's been the last four years.

Court observers say it boils down to if Mickelson mentally ill or evil. The latter is how acting Caddo Parish District Attorney Dale Cox is framing the argument. And to bolster that line of reasoning, Cox spent much of the day focusing less on the 2007 murder of 86-year-old Charles Martin, that the jury found him guilty of on Wednesday, and more on a separate murder.

That other case happened almost exactly 11 years before Martin's death. It involved the 1996 mysterious disappearance of 26-year-old Kristy O'Pry. It was only after Mickelson was arrested in 2007 that he gave a signed confession to killing, raping and dismembering her body before bagging up her remains and throwing them in various dumpsters around town.

Mickelson then admitted to tossing her wrapped torso in a box and putting it in a deep culvert off Jefferson Paige Road near the American Rose Center. Bossier Sheriff's Detective Kay Ward, who then worked for the Caddo Sheriff's Office, recalled Mickelson's confession as cold, logical  and emotionless.

Prosecutors also pointed out that he would never say he strangled O'Pry, instead describing it as "wringing her neck," the very same technique he described using to kill his family cats as a child.

But Mickelson's defense team said there are substantial "mitigating factors" that should disqualify Mickelson from the death penalty. They contend that Mickelson suffered from severe mental illness during the crimes, which included symptoms ranging from delusions to hallucinations.

That also included the belief that he possessed special powers, like the ability to move objects with is mind and his spirit being able to leave his body. Defense attorneys  also said years of heavy drug use only exacerbated his mental condition, leaving him with a thin grip on reality and vulnerable to making poor decisions.

The Louisiana Supreme Court threw out Mickelson's 2011 conviction and death sentence and ordered this new trial. The penalty phase will resume at 9:00 a.m. on Friday. The jury, consisting of 8 women and 4 men, is expected to begin deliberations sometime Friday.

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