A jury found a Columbus man guilty Friday night of first-degree intentional homicide for the March stabbing death of a man in his Downtown Madison apartment, closing out the first part of a two-phase trial.
The jury of seven women and five men who found Darrick Anderson, 24, guilty of first-degree intentional homicide and six other lesser charges will begin hearing evidence Monday about whether Anderson is legally responsible for the homicide because he suffered from a mental disease or defect at the time.
After deliberations lasting nearly 3½ hours, the jury ruled that Anderson stabbed Andrew Nesbitt, 46, to death on March 27 in Nesbitt’s apartment at 27 N. Butler St. Nesbitt was found several hours later in his bed by his roommate, who called 911.
The jury also found Anderson guilty of three counts of bail jumping, two counts of retail theft and one count of obstructing police.
On Friday, Anderson decided with his lawyer, Tim Kiefer, that he would not testify in his own defense. He would have been the only defense witness after Deputy District Attorney Matthew Moeser rested Friday, finishing up about five days of prosecution evidence that included testimony from investigators, people who had seen Nesbitt at local bars hours before his death and others.
Dane County Circuit Judge John Hyland also ruled that the jury would not be instructed to consider self-defense for Anderson, finding that there hadn’t been enough evidence presented for jurors to reasonably consider whether Anderson killed Nesbitt in order to defend himself from an attack.
Kiefer referenced several points of testimony as reason to allow the jury to receive the self-defense instruction. Among them was testimony Thursday by Dane County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Vincent Tranchida that deep cuts on Anderson’s right hand “could” have been defensive wounds, or wounds suffered as he tried to grab a knife away from another person wielding one.
But Hyland said that Tranchida also theorized that the cuts could have been offensive wounds that happened when stabs by Anderson struck Nesbitt’s skull and caused Anderson’s hand to slip from the knife handle onto the knife blade.
Hyland said that instructing the jury to consider self-defense would have invited the jury to speculate about evidence it did not have.
In all, Nesbitt sustained 35 stab wounds and 41 cut wounds. The knife used in the attack, which Tranchida said was a single-bladed knife like a kitchen knife, has not been found.
Without the ability to argue self-defense, Kiefer told jurors during his brief closing argument to consider a “reasonable hypothesis consistent with the defendant’s innocence,” as stated in the jury instructions, to find Anderson not guilty of first-degree intentional homicide.
Kiefer didn’t specifically state what that hypothesis might be.
In a rebuttal argument, Moeser asked jurors what a reasonable hypothesis might be for the discovery of drops of Anderson’s blood in several places in Nesbitt’s apartment, including the kitchen floor, his mattress and the bathroom, or for finding Anderson’s DNA on one of Nesbitt’s fingernails.
“The defense can’t give you any explanation,” Moeser said.
In his earlier closing argument, Moeser said the evidence was overwhelming, with video surveillance footage that followed Nesbitt and Anderson toward Nesbitt’s apartment from the Kelley’s Market convenience store on West Washington Avenue, where Nesbitt had gone after walking from Club 5 on Madison’s South Side.
And a Snapchat video, taken by Anderson, showed Nesbitt with a liquor bottle in his kitchen, as Anderson feted “the birthday boy.” Nesbitt had gone out alone to celebrate his birthday that night.
Security video from 7-Eleven on Regent Street, Moeser said, taken hours before Anderson met Nesbitt, showed that Anderson didn’t have the large bandage made of socks that he had when he went to a UW Health clinic the afternoon after Nesbitt’s death.
If the jury finds next week that Anderson was not suffering from a mental illness when he killed Nesbitt, Anderson would face mandatory life imprisonment. Hyland would decide when, if ever, Anderson would be eligible for release from prison on extended supervision.
If he is found not legally responsible, Anderson could be kept in a state mental institution indefinitely. The insanity phase could last until Wednesday.