An Atascadero man who claimed he was a werewolf was sentenced Tuesday to 50 years in prison for murdering his neighbor.
Mark Andrews, 53, had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the May 22, 2013, murder of Colleen Barga-Milbury, 52. But in March, a jury found him legally sane and guilty of murder.
During the trial, defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu told jurors Andrews had believed he was a werewolf for two decades. Andrews killed his neighbor, Funke-Bilu said, because he believed she was a vampire and that the voice of God told Andrews to kill her.
Andrews was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and with no motive for the shooting, only mental illness could explain why his client killed Barga-Milbury, Funke-Bilu said.
“There was no reason for it,” Funke-Bilu reiterated during the sentencing hearing. “She was a wonderful person. There was no animosity between the two.”
Wayne Drew, who was Barga-Milbury’s boyfriend, doesn’t believe mental illness caused Andrews to kill.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that you knew exactly what you were doing,” Drew said, addressing Andrews in court.
The victim dedicated her life to her son, who has autism, Drew said. Robert Barga, who discovered his mother’s lifeless body after returning home from school, just reached a
“He just turned 18 yesterday,” Drew said. “And he did not have his mother there.”
Addressing Andrews directly, he added, “You killed his mother. There’s no reason for it. During the trial, I heard nothing but denials.”
Barga-Milbury’s husband — Robert’s father — died in 2000, according to a letter to the court written by the victim’s sister, Christina Rice. While caring for her son, Rice wrote, Barga-Milbury also cared for her parents as they battled cancer.
In 2009, Barga-Milbury took a leave of absence from her job as a food services supervisor at Atascadero State Hospital, Rice wrote, so she could enroll her son at a charter school in Idaho that specialized in educating children with special needs.
After three years of successful schooling, she wrote, Robert and his mother returned to Atascadero. There, she was a friend of the Andrews family.
“Colleen was at the hospital the night Mark Andrews’ father passed away,” Rice wrote. “Before the senior Mr. Andrews died, he hugged and kissed Colleen goodbye and told her that he loved her.”
News of the killing was a shock, Rice wrote.
“And even more devastating, the murderer had left her in the doorway for her 16-year-old, autistic son to come home from school to discover,” Rice wrote.
Rice, who lives in New York, said that when she arrived in California after the murder, the victim’s son asked her, “What is going to happen to me?”
“No 16-year-old child should ever have to experience that thought,” Rice wrote. “Robert not only lost his mother, he lost his home, and he had to move away from his friends, his school and his community. He lost the life that he knew.”
Robert Barga now lives in New York, with an aunt and her family. He is in therapy.
“Robert must learn to put his mother’s murder to rest in his mind, and not replay it over and over in his head and wonder what he could have done to prevent it,” Rice wrote.
Rice said she hopes Andrews receives treatment in prison, “but that he never again (be) given the opportunity to treat his illness on his own.”
Funke-Bilu agreed that Andrews needs mental health treatment while incarcerated — to protect himself and others, he said.
Before leveling the sentence, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge John Trice turned to Andrews and asked, “Is there anything you’d like to say, Mr. Andrews?”
Andrews considered it for about 10 seconds and then shook his head and answered, “No, your honor.”
Trice told Andrews the community lost a “wonderful person” because of the murder, and the crime impacted many people, including the victim’s son.
“This is one of the most senseless crimes I’ve ever seen,” Trice said.