A northern California man accused of ripping out the heart and tongue of a friend after the two had taken hallucinogenic drugs has pleaded guilty to murder, four days before his case was set to go to trial.
Jarrod Wyatt, 29, of Crescent City, Calif. accepted a plea deal in which he will serve a 50-years-to-life prison sentence in the March 2010 death of his sparring partner, 21-year-old Taylor Powell, Del Norte County prosecutors told The Associated Press.
“The earliest he’ll be able to see a parole board is 2062,” District Attorney Jon Alexander told the AP. “We saved Taylor’s family the agony from reliving the incident at the trial.”
Police officers discovered Wyatt naked and covered in blood head-to-toe when they arrived at a house in Requa, Calif., in March 2010. Wyatt, a mixed-martial artist, reportedly told the officers, “I killed him.” He had cut out Powell’s heart and tongue, according to court documents.
Powell’s body was found by officers on the couch. His chest had been cut open, while his heart, tongue and the skin of his face was removed. Court documents say that Powell’s heart and tongue had been removed while he was still alive.
The two had ingested hallucinogenic mushrooms before Wyatt attacked and killed Powell, according to witnesses. While intoxicated, the two believed that they were involved in a struggle between God and the devil. Powell’s heart was discovered by police charred in a wood-burning stove, Dr. Neil Kushner, who performed the autopsy, told The Times Standard.
Previously Wyatt entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. After he was evaluated by psychiatrists, a judge ruled him competent to stand trial, the AP reported.
On Thursday night, Alexander and Wyatt’s attorney, James Fallman, reached a deal in which Wyatt pleaded guilty to first-degree murder involving mayhem. Fallman said that Wyatt didn’t want to testify at trial and he didn’t want his family to testify.
“We looked for an agreement that would at least give him the opportunity to be paroled someday,” Fallman told the AP. “As bad as 50 years to life sounds, it’s better than life without the possibility of parole.” Wyatt is scheduled to be officially sentenced Oct. 4.