A jury has found Mark Becker guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas last June. Becker’s defense team hadn’t disputed the shooting, but argued Becker was criminally insane when he shot Thomas to death.
Becker’s trial was held in the Butler County Courthouse in Allison, where jurors heard testimony from students who were in the school’s weight room the morning of the shooting and witnessed the murder. Psychiatrists testified, too, offering differing opinions on Becker’s sanity at the time of the slaying. The psychiatrist brought in by prosecutors said Becker carefully planned the murder, even practicing shooting and adjusting his plan of attack because he discovered his aim wasn’t good at long range.
The jury deliberated five days including today. Jurors sent a note to judge Carroll Friday asking him how to proceed after taking four votes and not agreeing on a verdict. Carroll sent jurors a note Monday when they came back and referred them to a jury instruction that informs them it’s their duty to agree on a verdict.
On Friday, the jurors also asked Carroll what would happen to Becker if he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. The judge told them it wasn’t their job to be concerned about the consequences, they were to decide whether Becker is guilty of first-degree murder or a lesser charge or whether he is not guilty by reason of insanity.
Becker now faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.