Prosecutors: Mark Becker plotted, practiced before shooting
By GRANT SCHULTE and REID FORGRAVE • email@example.com • February 12, 2010
Allison, Ia. – Accused murderer Mark Becker plotted to kill Ed Thomas and had practiced shooting the morning that he emptied a .22-caliber revolver into the Aplington-Parkersburg football coach, prosecutors said this morning.
Becker asked four different people about Thomas’ whereabouts before finding the coach and shooting five times – four in the head, once in the knee, Iowa assistant attorney general Scott Brown told the jury this morning during opening statements.
Becker, 24, then allegedly walked up to Thomas on the ground, kicked him in the head and chest, and said, “(Expletive) you, old man,” Brown said.
The new details emerged during opening statements in Becker’s first-degree murder trial in Allison.
Becker believed coach was 'Satan'
Prosecutors allege that Becker shot and Thomas during a morning weight-lifting session with roughly 20 students.
Becker’s attorney Susan Flander, has argued that her client was legally insane and should not be held criminally accountable.
Becker believed that Thomas was Satan and was trying to suffocate him, defense lawyers told the jury.
Becker experienced wild delusions about Thomas and decided that he needed to kill the football coach to "make this stop," defense lawyer Derek Jones told jurors in opening statements. Becker believed that Thomas could turn people into fish, animals and other people, Jones said.
After his arrest and as he waited to be interviewed by Butler County sheriff deputies, Becker made statements by himself "that are just bizarre," Jones said. At one point, he told one of his interviewers that he could see him glowing, Jones said.
Becker allegedly pried open gun cabinet with antlers
Brown, the Iowa assistant attorney general, said Becker was a “far cry” from insane when he killed Thomas, and was angry because he believed Thomas had been harassing him.
Becker awoke early at his parents’ farm house on June 24, 2009, Brown said. He drank coffee with his parents, Dave and Joan, and waited for them to leave, Brown said.
Becker then allegedly donned a pair of gray coveralls, pried open his family’s gun cabinet with a pair of antlers, and removed a .22-caliber revolver.
He loaded the gun and stepped outside to practice, Brown said. From outside the home’s front door, he fired several shots at a bird house – and missed – and realized that he would have to get close to Thomas to succeed, Brown said.
Becker climbed into his blue Chevy Lumina and set the gun on the seat next to him, Brown told the jury. He drove into town, and asked several acquaintances about where Thomas was, Brown said. At one point, Brown said, he told one person that he wanted to talk to Thomas about the city’s tornado relief fund.
"I am done with Ed"
Becker arrived at the makeshift weight room and poked his head inside to size up the room, Brown said. He allegedly walked back outside, to his car, and grabbed the revolver.
Becker then returned to the weight room, walked up to the Thomas and fired all five bullets, Brown said. Thomas was hit in the temple, chin and behind his ear, Brown said. One bullet struck his knee. One of the bullets passed through his hand when he tried to protect himself, Brown said.
When Butler County sheriff arrested a blood-covered Becker at his parents’ farm, Becker allegedly said: “Ed is done, and I am done with Ed,” Brown said.
Brown repeatedly emphasized the word “chose” as he outlined the prosecution’s version of the June 24, 2009 shooting.
“No one in this case – not myself, not (fellow prosecutor Andrew) Prosser, or anyone – will dispute the fact that Mark Becker had a mental illness,” Brown said. “But the evidence will be in this case – if I say it once, I’ll say it 1,000 times – mental illness does not equal insanity.”
“Mark Becker chose to take a gun and go shoot Ed Thomas in the weight room,” Brown said. “He made this choice consciously and with full understanding and appreciation of the consequences of his acts.”
Becker and Thomas’s families sat on opposite sides of the packed Butler County courtroom.
Becker entered in a dark blue, striped Oxford shirt and took his seat without making eye contact with anyone in the room. He stared forward while Judge Stephen Carroll explained the trial process to the jury, his fingers interlaced on his lap.
Several jurors glanced at Becker’s family as they took their seats. Aplington-Parkersburg Superintendent Jon Thompson and several local pastors watched from the public gallery.
Two 15 year olds who were in the weight room at the time of the shooting testified this morning. My God, I can't even imagine what this whole thing has been like for them, to see someone you admire so much just gunned down while you are working out. I hope they are getting some good therapy. :-(