SEATTLE – A man accused of raping and stabbing a lesbian couple in their home, killing one of them, in a random attack that terrorized a quiet Seattle neighborhood two years ago was convicted Friday of aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape and burglary.
Isaiah Kalebu, 25, was found guilty by a King County Superior Court jury, which handed down the verdicts after two days of deliberations. He faces life in prison for the July 2009 attack that killed Teresa Butz and injured her partner.
Kalebu testified Wednesday that he committed the rape and stabbing of the lesbian couple in Seattle two summers ago.
"I was there and I was told by my God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to attack my enemies, and I did so," he said under questioning by one of his lawyers.
The testimony was the first time jurors had seen Kalebu, who was previously so disruptive in court that the judge barred him from attending. He watched the trial via closed circuit television before indicating he wanted to exercise his constitutional right to testify in his own defense.
He was wheeled into court in restraints, wearing an electroshock sleeve and the oversized white mitts. He recently was hospitalized after swallowing a small pencil.
Prison guards stood by ready to activate the Taser-like sleeve in case Kalebu acted out, but he remained docile. The courtroom had been rearranged to prevent jurors from seeing his restraints.
Prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty due to Kalebu's history of mental illness. Experts have found that although he might suffer from bipolar disorder, he had been faking or exaggerating the symptoms. In January, he was found competent to stand trial.
Kalebu did not pursue a mental-health defense. His lawyers, Michael Schwartz and Ramona Brandes, argued that he didn't commit the crime — a contention prosecutors said was disproved by DNA evidence and witnesses.
Kalebu was accused of slipping in an open window of the couple's home in Seattle's South Park neighborhood and repeatedly raping and stabbing them during a two-hour attack.
Butz died naked and blood-soaked in the street in front of her home as neighbors tried to help. Her partner survived and told the jury that Kalebu was the man who did it.
Kalebu testified from the defense table and answered only two questions: One about whether he knew about the events, and another about whether he'd been diagnosed with mental illnesses. He answered the latter affirmatively as prosecutors objected on hearsay grounds.
He was also suspected in an arson that killed his aunt and one of her tenants in Pierce County, south of Seattle, but has not been charged in that case due to a lack of forensic evidence.
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