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Witness tells of killer's troubled thoughts, words

By Johnny Johnson Published: March 6, 2008
NORMAN — Defense attorneys Wednesday rested their case in the punishment phase of Kevin Ray Underwood's first-degree murder trial after his mother asked the jury to spare her son's life.

Connie Underwood told jurors that her son seemed to be a normal child until he started pulling away from his family after starting school.

"And as the years went by, he got worse,” she said, adding that Kevin Underwood didn't like to be hugged or held and eventually acted like he did not want to be touched at all.

Despite his physical distance, Connie Underwood said her son typically confided in her about his work and his feelings about girls, especially Melissa Custer, a woman in California he had met and "fallen in love” with through the Internet.

When Custer canceled a meeting in California and changed her mind about entering into a mutual romantic relationship with Kevin Underwood, her son was crushed, Connie Underwood testified.

Connie Underwood related a conversation she had with her son after he was arrested for the murder of 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin.

"He said that if he could change what happened, he would have,” she said.

Defense attorney Wayne Woodyard asked Underwood's mother whether she wanted the jury to spare her son's life.

"Yes,” she whispered tearfully. "Please.”

Last week, a jury took less than 30 minutes to convict Underwood of the 2006 murder of 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin, Underwood's upstairs neighbor at a Purcell apartment complex. This week, jurors have heard from witnesses including Underwood's parents and friends and mental health experts.

‘Struggle to be normal'
Psychiatrist Martin Kafka, who interviewed Underwood after his arrest, said what struck him most about Underwood was his eloquent and sad writings in which he described a "lifelong struggle to be normal.”

Kafka, an expert witness for the defense, told jurors some of the most telling glimpses into Underwood's mind came from notes scrawled in the margins of Underwood's college notebooks, when he was attempting to take notes in college classes in 1998.

"I can't keep my mind on class,” Underwood wrote. "Concentrate damn you ... The computer is taking over my mind ... forcing me to change ... I don't want to ... the computer won't let me be normal .

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