- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - An Arizona man charged with killing his brother and then fatally shooting his 6-year-old nephew who witnessed the crime was in the throes of a psychotic episode on the day of the two deaths, his attorney said Wednesday as he urged a jury to accept his client’s insanity defense.

Attorney James Wilson said he wasn’t asking jurors to let Christopher Rey Licon walk free out of the courtroom, but instead pressed ahead for a “guilty, except insane” verdict that would spare his client the death penalty and prison time and instead send him to a state mental hospital.

“He is not the monster the state has tried to portray him as,” Wilson said during closing arguments at Licon’s trial.

Authorities are seeking the death penalty against the 24-year-old in the December 2010 killings of his half brother, Angel Jaquez, and Jaquez’s son, Xavier Jaquez.

Prosecutors say Licon killed his brother in the Phoenix townhome they shared over a drug dispute and then kidnapped and fatally shot his nephew in an alley 20 miles away. Investigators believe the boy either saw or heard his father die and was killed by his uncle out of fear that the child would snitch on Licon.

Sanitation workers found the child’s body. The boy, surrounded by a pool of blood, was still wearing his school uniform and had a Burger King kid’s meal nearby.

Prosecutor Laura Reckart said in closing arguments Tuesday that Licon hasn’t proven that he suffered from a mental disease that would have prevented him from understanding that his actions were wrong.

Wilson said family members attribute Licon’s actions not to his drug use, but rather to a chronic psychological illness. “They know that but for Mr. Licon’s mental illness, this would not have happened,” Wilson said.

Wilson said Licon had lost weight, experienced hallucinations and became detached and uncommunicative around the time of the killings.

The defense attorney pointed out the differences in Licon’s appearance in a mugshot in which his eyes looked dazed and a 2009 high school photo in which a clear-eyed Licon wore a tuxedo.

Authorities say a neighbor witnessed Licon dragging his nephew into a car that would be used to bring the child to the alley where he died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Licon, then a construction management student at Arizona State University, told investigators that he was studying at a library in Tempe at the time that his half brother was killed. He said he came home to find his brother’s body in the townhome.

But authorities say Licon’s alibi collapsed quickly after neighbors were interviewed and other evidence was gathered.

Authorities say two key pieces of evidence were found inside the car Licon used to bring the boy to the alley: a 9 mm bullet casing that matched a casing found at Jaquez’s home and a toy from the Burger King kid’s meal.

Prosecutors say Licon was in an illegal drug business with his half brother and had acknowledged selling drugs in the months before both deaths.


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