NORMAN — Convicted killer Kevin Ray Underwood, who has exhibited a detached demeanor and lack of emotion since his 2006 arrest, needed a tissue to wipe his reddening eyes Tuesday while his father testified. Larry "Beau” Underwood told jurors that he always wanted his son to become more than he was, but that he also always loved him. "More than anything,” the 30-year meat market manager said in a whisper, "I didn't tell him enough.” Larry Underwood, previously described as a cold, silent father figure, was testifying during the penalty phase of the trial during which Kevin Underwood was convicted of killing 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin. An expert psychologist for the defense later testified that Kevin Underwood "clearly felt that he would never measure up to his father, who was the real man,” and that he was afraid his father thought he was either gay or just a sissy.” Larry Underwood told jurors that he didn't know if it was that he had been disappointed "in” his son, or "for” him. "He's got all this intelligence,” he said. "He was so smart that I always thought someday, he'll be somebody.” Larry Underwood admitted that he was too hard on his son when he was growing up, but he said it was because he never understood him. Larry Underwood said he became irritated that his son always wanted to stay in his room and wouldn't do things other kids would do. "I didn't understand he was trying,” the father said. The father recalled one incident that haunted him, when he got frustrated with his son after a T-ball game, in which an elementary-age Kevin Underwood was "fooling around” in the outfield instead of focusing on the game. "I said, ‘Kevin, if you didn't want to play, then why did you join?,'” Larry Underwood recalled tearfully. "And he said, ‘I done it for you, Dad.'” Larry Underwood expressed pride when he talked about Kevin Underwood's grades and work ethic, the fact that the younger Underwood didn't really drink or do drugs, and that he always hoped his son would grow out of his depression and anxiety problems. "It got to where instead of saying, ‘Why not do this,' and ‘Why not do that,' to just feeling sorry for him,” Larry Underwood testified. When FBI agents took his son away to question him about the disappearance of his 10-year-old neighbor Jamie Rose, Larry Underwood said he actually smiled because he knew his son was going to help if he could. When he found out the grisly truth, the father said he couldn't believe it.
What did psychologist find?There is no evidence to show Kevin Underwood was insane when he killed the child who lived upstairs from him, a forensic psychologist for the defense told jurors Tuesday afternoon. But he said Underwood had numerous disorders that could include bipolar disorder, pedophilia, social anxiety, post-traumatic-stress disorder and lifelong depression, among others. Dr. Robert Prentky, who spent two days interviewing Kevin Underwood, said Underwood talked to him about witnessing his mother's episodic battles with extreme violence and also about enduring emotional and psychological abuse from his father. Prentky described Underwood's early school years as tortured, as the youth was bullied and humiliated by other students who once held the boy down on the ground while they duct-taped his head. "My professional opinion is that he spent his whole life afraid of people,” the expert testified. Tests given to Underwood by Prentky revealed what the psychologist interpreted as a strong sexual attraction to young girls and boys, and that Underwood had sexual interest in acts involving urine, feces and vomit. "He spent the better part of his young life overwhelmed by deviant sexual fantasies,” Prentky said. Prentky also testified Kevin Underwood would not fare well in prison. "If he was beaten up in the school yard, I can only imagine what it would be like in the penal population with his governing offense,” Prentky said, adding later that he is at a very high risk to be killed while in prison. "Rarely do you see anyone as vulnerable as that man over there,” Prentky said. When questioned by prosecutors, Prentky admitted that Underwood still appeared to have a morbid fascination with death, talking about serial killers while he has been in jail, and that he had to assume the man still had deviant sexual fantasies. But Prentky said he could not say whether Undewood posed a continued threat to society, just as he could not pick a single diagnosis to tell why Underwood killed Jamie Rose Bolin at that particular time.
Always on the fringesEarlier in the morning, jurors heard testimony from Kevin Underwood's aunts, who described him as an awkward and socially inhibited young boy who did not improve as he grew older. Gayle Coburn, Kevin Underwood's aunt from Emporia, Kan., testified that her nephew was always on the fringes, even when his cousins were playing. "He was always reaching out, wanting to play but not able to take the next step,” Coburn said. She recalled a trip she planned for Kevin Underwood to go to the Natural History Museum to look at dinosaurs, but said her nephew refused to go at the last minute. "He said there would be a lot of people there,” she recalled, adding that Kevin Underwood was always worried people would think he was weird or different. "He was different,” she said.
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Kevin Ray Underwood is escorted into the courtroom Tuesday during the sentencing phase of his trial. BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN