Crime

Jury deliberating Atascadero man's sanity at time of murder

Mark Andrews, left, was in court Feb. 6 for a murder trial in the shooting death of his neighbor, Colleen Barga-Milbury. At right is his attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu.
Mark Andrews, left, was in court Feb. 6 for a murder trial in the shooting death of his neighbor, Colleen Barga-Milbury. At right is his attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

A man who claims he’s a werewolf was mentally ill when he killed his neighbor, a prosecutor argued Monday during closing arguments, but his actions at the time show he was legally sane.

“There is no evidence that the defendant was acutely psychotic at the time of the murder,” said Deputy District Attorney Matt Kraut.

But an attorney for Mark Andrews, 51, of Atascadero, told jurors his client has a history of psychotic behavior, including documented events from 1993, 1996 and 2009, which would suggest he was insane at the time.

“We know in 2013 he was psychotic because he killed his neighbor for no reason,” said Ilan Funke-Bilu.

With the conclusion of closing arguments, jurors began deliberating the sanity phase of Andrews’ murder trial.

The jury had previously decided that Andrews shot and killed Colleen Barga-Milbury, a 52-year-old widowed mother, on May 22, 2013. In the sanity phase of the trial, the defense has to prove that Andrews either didn’t know what he was doing when he committed the murder or didn’t know what he did was wrong.

During the trial, Funke-Bilu said a delusional and psychotic Andrews believed Barga-Milbury was a vampire and he was a werewolf commanded by the voice of God to kill her.

“He was not killing Colleen Barga-Milbury. He was killing the being within her,” Funke-Bilu said.

During the trial, David Fennell, medical director at Atascadero State Hospital, said Andrews suffers from fixed delusions, meaning they don’t go away. But, Kraut said, evidence showed Andrews had not been psychotic for four years before the murder and wasn’t for months after.

While Barga-Milbury lay dead in her home, he said, holding up a crime scene photo, Andrews was at a local Circle K, not showing any signs of mentally ill behavior.

“Within hours of committing this cold-blooded murder, the defendant is shopping for beer,” he said.

Andrews also appeared organized, sensible and responsive, Kraut said, when he was interviewed by police and a TV reporter over the next three days after the murder.

During the TV interview, played for jurors, Andrews said he knew Barga-Milbury, was aware that she had worked in food services at ASH and was a widow who lived alone with her teenage son.

There was “no talk of vampires,” Kraut said. “No talk of werewolves and no talk of hearing the voice of God.”

The prosecution did not have to establish Andrews’ motive for shooting his neighbor, he said.

“People commit crimes all the time and don’t give any indication why,” he said. “When someone kills someone else, only the killer truly knows why.”

But a lack of motive in the case, Funke-Bilu said, is consistent with someone who is not thinking clearly.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” he said, noting gun casings found in Andrews’ room. “He left a trail. He wasn’t hiding anything.”

While Andrews made no mention of vampires or werewolves after the murder, Funke-Bilu said, past incidents taught him that revealing his delusions would get him arrested.

Two psychiatric experts testified that Andrews was insane at the time, while two others testified that he was sane.

Fennell, who believed Andrews was insane, is best equipped to judge, Funke-Bilu said, because he has treated the criminally insane for years.

“This is what you see when you go to ASH,” he said, pointing to Andrews. “The lights are on, but no one is home.”

Andrews, who has a 20-year history of schizophrenia, could not have healed for a short time to commit the murder, he said.

“There’s substantial evidence that on May 22 he was suffering from this disease,” Funke-Bilu said.

Three days after the crime, Andrews’ mother visited him at County Jail. When she talked about his confession to police, he told her he just wanted to be executed — further evidence of sanity, Kraut said.

“He wants to die because he knows what he did was wrong,” Kraut said.

If a jury finds Andrews sane, he will be sentenced to life in prison. If he’s found insane, he will be sent to a state hospital until he is deemed well enough to return to society.

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