Testimony has ended in the trial of a former football player accused of killing his high school coach. The prosecution called its final rebuttal witness this morning. Des Moines psychiatrist Michael Taylor said he believes Mark Becker knew what he was doing when he shot and killed Aplington-Parkersburg coach Ed Thomas in a make-shift weight room.
Around 20 students witnessed the shooting on the morning of June 24, 2009. “Clearly, Mr. Becker knew that he was killing a human being and not Satan, or something like that, because he yelled ‘(expletive) you old man’ several times while kicking coach Thomas in the head and abdomen,” Dr. Taylor said. The 24-year-old Becker has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Two mental health experts who testified for the defense on Monday said Becker suffers from schizophrenia, believed Thomas was Satan and didn’t know the difference between right and wrong at the time of the shooting. Taylor, however, disputed those findings and pointed to comments Becker made to a D.C.I. agent shortly after he was arrested.
“Mr. Becker talked about his belief that ‘someone would come to arrest me,'” Taylor said. Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown asked what that statement indicated to Taylor. “That (Becker) knew he had done something wrong and he was going to be arrested for it,” Taylor replied.
Becker knew what he had done was legally wrong. Closing arguments in the case are set to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
By Dave Franzman, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids