Friday, September 13, 2002


Stayner Lawyer Argues Sanity Phase

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - The lawyer for the man convicted of killing three Yosemite tourists urged jurors to find her client insane Wednesday, saying his mind was such a jumble of ailments that experts could not agree on what was wrong with him.

In wrapping up her case in the sanity phase of Cary Stayner's trial, Marcia Morrissey said the motel handyman showed symptoms of schizophrenia, psychosis and obsessive compulsive disorder — but that the sickness was greater than the sum of the parts.

"It's just a function of the fact that Mr. Stayner has so many other problems," Morrissey said. "It's hard to say exactly what."

The jury was expected to begin deliberations Thursday after prosecutors present their closing argument and Morrissey offers a rebuttal. Prosecutors were expected to argue Stayner was well aware of what he was doing when he killed Carole Sund, 42, her daughter, Juli, 15, and their friend, Silvina Pelosso, 16, in February 2000.

Stayner was convicted last month of first-degree murder. If the jury agrees with the prosecution, the trial will move to a penalty phase in which the same jurors will weigh whether he should be put to death.

An insanity decision would keep Stayner in prison for life, a sentence he is already serving for murdering nature guide Joie Armstrong in July 1999.

On Wednesday, Morrissey said Stayner, 41, was formed by a tangled family history of mood disorders, obsessive behavior and child molestation.

"We've talked about the incredibly sad family history in this case," Morrissey said. "You see it on both sides of the family, it gets handed down and handed down and handed down."

The heart of the defense case lies in Stayner's claims that he heard voices and messages from television that told him to "do the job."