SEATTLE (AP) — A man wearing a shock sleeve to control outbursts and hand mitts to prevent him from stuffing dangerous items into his mouth testified Wednesday that he committed the horrific rape and stabbing of a 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,” Isaiah Kalebu said under questioning by one of his lawyers.
Closing arguments in the case were presented later in the day, and a jury began deliberations before adjourning until Thursday.
The trial started three weeks ago, but 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 from another courtroom 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, a yellow shirt and dark tie, 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.
Kalebu, 25, testified while sitting at the defense table, and even remained sitting while the jurors filed in – usually everyone in the courtroom must rise. He kept his hands by his lap as he was sworn in.
He answered only two questions on the stand: 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.
Kalebu is 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. One woman, Teresa 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.
He’s 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.
Kalebu is not pursuing any type of mental-health defense. His lawyers, Michael Schwartz and Ramona Brandes, have argued that he didn’t commit the crime – a contention prosecutors say is disproved by DNA evidence and witnesses.
Prosecutors are 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 has been faking or exaggerating the symptoms. In January, he was found competent to stand trial.
If he’s convicted, he could face life in prison with no opportunity for release.