NORMAN — Defense attorneys outlined their strategy Monday morning as to how they hope to save the life of 28-year-old Kevin Underwood, who was convicted last week of the murder of his 10-year-old upstairs neighbor Jamie Rose Bolin.
Defense attorneys have indicated they expect to call 22 witnesses.
Defense attorney Wayne Woodyard reminded jurors of their earlier promise to weigh evidence and balance information presented even after previously "disturbing" evidence prompted them to find Underwood guilty of first degree murder.
"If you do not listen to this evidence, our system fails," Woodyard said.
For the most part, Woodyard said, Underwood lived a "life very unremarkable."
In his opening statement, Woodyard talked about how Underwood was an outcast and often a target of bullies at school.
He went on to say that Underwood, a shy and passive child who was overweight and never physically or socially active, was a disappointment to his father, and had violent mood swings that were sometimes present in his mother, who occasionally demonstrated signs of bipolar behavior, including breaking and throwing items.
"I think the evidence will show that possibly some of these bipolar tendencies were passed to Kevin," Woodyard said.
As a young boy, Woodyard said, Underwood had early signs of social anxiety, which was made manageable through a network of close friends who stood up for him and became a lifeline to tether him to reality.
But as the friends grew older and grew apart, Woodyard said Underwood's condition worsened and he became more attracted to bizarre fantasies including deviant sexual behavior, necrophilia and cannibalism.
Realizing his tendencies toward his dark desires, Woodyard said Underwood tried to deal with his problems and started going to the gym to lose weight and he tried to to assimilate. But eventually after getting sick, he quit going to the gym and the "fantasies came back with a vengeance."
Woodyard said doctors have diagnosed Underwood with a plethora of disorders including bipolar disorder, social anxiety, panic attacks, pedophilia, sexual sadism and compulsive masturbation.
And while it would be "natural" to think someone with all those disorders to be "insane," Woodyard said the legal requirements of insanity are hard to prove, including the fact that the person did not know what they were doing or that they didn't know the difference between right and wrong.
Woodyard said jurors will hear testimony that throughout his life, Underwood was never violent, to the extreme that he would not defend himself when physically attacked.
The question then, Woodyard said is "what happened to Kevin Underwood in April 2006?"
Indicating that they are relying heavily on previously introduced evidence and testimony in the first phase of the trial, prosecutors only called six witnesses Monday morning during the punishment phase of the trial.
The state stopped after Jamie's mother and father told jurors what their lives have been like since they lost their daughter, and asked the jury to apply the death penalty.
"I was and still am completely lost without her," Curtis Bolin testified. "There are times I don't know what I'm gonna do. All my life was dedicated to raising her."
Jennifer Fox, Jamie's mother, said she hasn't been able to work since Jamie was killed.
"I don't have my little girl anymore," she told jurors.
In order to convince the jury that the death penalty is appropriate, Assistant District Attorney Susan Caswell said the state carries the burden of showing that the murder was "heinous, atrocious or cruel," and that Underwood poses a continuing threat to society.
"It's a burden we gladly accept," Caswell said.