Trial of Lake Forest man accused of killing stepmother with ax ends at trial – Orange County Register
The trial of a Lake Forest man accused of killing his stepmother with an ax in 2013 ended in court on Monday, October 17, before a second phase of the trial could begin to determine whether he was sane at the time of the murder.
An Orange County Superior Court jury deliberated a little less than a day and a half before telling a judge that they were hopelessly deadlocked as to whether Oscar Luis Morlett III, now 30, was guilty of first-degree murder on August 9, 2013, Killing of 66-year-old Jeanne Morlett.
The jurors told a judge that 11 of them believed Morlett was guilty of first-degree murder, while the 12th juror believed he was guilty of second-degree murder.
First degree murder requires intent.
Morlett’s attorney maintains that he is not guilty by reason of insanity – meaning that even if the jury had found him guilty of murder, the panel would have to return to a Newport Beach courtroom for the sanity phase to determine whether in the murder case Morlett was in the midst of a psychotic episode when he killed his stepmother; If so, he would rather go to a psychiatric facility than jail.
Experts tasked with examining Morlett offered differing diagnoses, with at least one stating that he suffered from borderline personality disorder, while another stated that he was schizophrenic.
During Wednesday’s closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Seton Hunt told jurors Morlett waited for his father and brother to leave the house, retrieved a pickaxe from the yard, and punched his stepmother at least 18 times in the master bedroom.
After years of living with his mother, followed by a brief stint in his car, Morlett, then 21, had moved in with his father and stepmother. The prosecutor said Morlett was soon upset by the stepmother’s plan to sell the house they lived in and once told a neighbor he wanted to kill her.
“He made the decision to kill her because he was angry with her for various reasons, but primarily because of the housing situation and the sale of the house,” Hunt told jurors.
Morlett initially told police that his stepmother was killed by gardeners before finally admitting to hitting her with a pickaxe. At one point in the police interview, the prosecutor said Morlett told them he “attempted to cut out her vital organs and veins from the inside.” … I know what I did wrong; that is the worst thing you can do.”
Morlett’s attorney, Ed Beckett, countered that his client was unable to develop the intent required for murder: “Mr. Morlett was unable to carefully consider anything.”
Beckett noted that Morlett was prescribed antipsychotic medication after being hospitalized, and it’s unclear if he took it. Neighbors and family members said Morlett made random, seemingly incoherent comments, the defense attorney added.
Morlett later gave police and doctors several conflicting and apparently delusional reasons for attacking his stepmother, the defense attorney said, including either that she wanted to die or that his father had raped his stepmother and Morlett didn’t want her to tell his father.
“It’s not based on objective reality,” Beckett said.
Morlett’s trial has been delayed over the years as he was taken to a state hospital for treatment after a judge once determined he was mentally unfit to stand trial.
According to court documents, no date has yet been set for a retrial.
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/10/17/trial-of-lake-forest-man-accused-of-killing-stepmother-with-ax-ends-in-mistrial/ Trial of Lake Forest man accused of killing stepmother with ax ends at trial – Orange County Register