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Judge finds McGinnis guilty of murder

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

Jacob McGinnis, 27, of Kansas City, was found guilty on Friday of first degree murder, forcible rape, two counts of armed criminal action, and one count of burglary in the first degree.

After hearing testimony Monday through Friday, Judge Abe Shafer took less than 30 minutes to return the guilty verdict. McGinnis faces up to life in prison without an opportunity for parole when he is sentenced on Dec. 6.

The charges came from an incident on Sept. 9 and 10, 2005, when McGinnis shot Steven J. Sandoval, 32, of Platte City, in the back three times with a shotgun near Bethel Road and I-29 Highway. McGinnis and Sandoval had been friends for several years.

McGinnis then raped Sandoval’s wife while her three-year-old son was in the next room.

McGinnis took all of the phones and phone cords from the house and while he was leaving told the victim, “I’m really sorry, I think I just scarred you for life.”

McGinnis was found the next day near Unionville, Mo. naked in the back seat of his car.

When the judge read the verdict, sobbing broke out on both sides of the courtroom and McGinnis showed no visible reaction, and stared at Shafer.

The mother of the murder victim spoke after the verdict was announced.

“There is no such thing as closure,” said Mary Sandoval. “My son is still gone and I still miss him, anyone who says there’s closure is totally wrong. If I could have my son back, then there’d be closure. We got justice today.”

Defense attorney William Fickle said he was disappointed in the conclusion and felt the defendant was schizophrenic.

“We’re disappointed in the verdict,” said Fickle. “We feel (McGinnis) was mentally incompetent at the time. I know Judge Shafer and I’m sure he read all the reports and was very careful.”

During the trial, the defense did not contest whether McGinnis committed the crimes. They argued he is schizophrenic and was unable to understand the wrongfulness of his crimes at the time.

One of the defense’s witnesses was Dr. John Wisner, the head of the KU psychiatry department. Wisner testified that McGinnis experienced delusions and hallucinations.

He also testified about the reports of other doctors who had declared McGinnis to not have schizophrenia. Wisner said he had looked over their reports and said, “In my teaching experience I would not let these reports pass. They came to a wimpy, ‘who cares, anyway’ diagnosis.”

The prosecution called several other doctors who testified to the method they tested McGinnis, using a system called the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2, MMPI-2, test. The test consists of 567 questions to help determine a person’s mental health.

According to Dr. Jeanette Simmons, a forensic examiner and director of the Northwest Missouri Psychiatric Hospital, McGinnis’ test came back with a ‘fake-bad profile.’

“The fake-bad is usually someone who is attempting to exaggerate or feign symptoms of mental illness,” said Simmons.

Another witness, John Burke, licensed clinical social worker, described how he had worked with McGinnis since 2002 and had prescribed the anti-psychotic medication.

“He had fantasies about raping and killing women and watched pornography on a regular basis.”

Between 2002 and 2004, McGinnis had described the voices he heard in his head.

“He talked about hearing voices, telling him to do things. One of the voices he described as Satan’s voice.”

In 2002, Burke had diagnosed McGinnis as having a major depressive disorder, but through visits thought it may be an antisocial personality disorder.

Defense witness Innocent Anya, M.D., with Tri-County Medical, told the judge how he had been seeing McGinnis since 2006 and what would happen if he had stopped taking the medication for a month.

“To stop taking medication for a month is a prescription for trouble. The medication only controls the schizophrenia, they do not cure it.”

During testimony by the rape victim, she told how her son has had a recurring nightmare. She told the judge that he has suffered from anxiety and says during his nightmare, “mommy’s screaming.”

During a recess in the courtroom, McGinnis turned around and told his parents he loved them and missed seeing his nephews. He also talked with his father about a motorcycle his father had purchased from McGinnis. His mother mentioned how the moon was nearly full at the time, and McGinnis said he hadn’t seen the moon in two years since being arrested.

During closing statements, Eric Zahnd, prosecuting attorney, reiterated something McGinnis told a therapist about a year before the murder, “’I’m not crazy, but just evil.’ That may be the defendant’s only honest assessment of his mental health,” Zahnd said.

“For the victim, McGinnis ended his life and now we ask that you end the defendant’s life as he knows it,” said Zahnd. “This was not the work of a crazy man, but an evil man.”

McGinnis remains held in lieu of a $1,000,000 cash bond. Judge Shafer is scheduled to sentence McGinnis on Dec. 6 at 2 p.m.



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