(“Blame it on the muh, muh-muh-muh, muh-mushroom tea…” / Wyatt, shown directly after his arrest and in an undated photo from the Del Norte County Sheriffs Office.)
In March 2010, a Northern California-based mixed martial artist named Jarrod Wyatt was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after drilling a hole into the chest of his friend and sparring partner Taylor Powell, removing his heart, tongue, and most of his face, then cooking the heart in a wood stove. ”Satan was in that dude,” Wyatt allegedly told the Del Norte County Police sergeant who responded to the scene. It’s worth mentioning that the incident occurred after Wyatt, Powell, and two other acquaintances got together to drink some psychedelic mushroom tea, and Wyatt became convinced that the world was about to end.
The case has suffered a series of delays resulting from Del Norte District Attorney Jon Alexander tossing out the original charges of murder, aggravated mayhem, and torture (which carried a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison), in order to re-file the case to include “special circumstance allegations of mayhem, extreme cruelty and depravity,” which would have brought a potential sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. In May, Wyatt was ruled competent to stand trial, and a start date was originally sent for today, September 10th. But on Thursday, September 6th, Wyatt accepted a plea deal in which he pleaded guilty to first degree murder involving mayhem, with a special enhancement for using a weapon, and was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of 25 years to life.
The deal followed an earlier proposed deal from Wyatt’s attorney James Fallman, in which Wyatt would plead guilty to second-degree murder, ultimately serving 41 years to life in prison. But D.A. Jon Alexander wasn’t having that mess. As he told the Times-Standard:
“I said we would accept first degree murder and nothing less than 50 years to life,” Alexander said…
He said he spoke with Powell’s family tonight, who also agreed to the plea deal.
“The earliest he’ll be able to see a parole board is 2062,” Alexander said.
He said it was important to him that Wyatt admitted to killing Powell, and that it was a premeditated murder that wasn’t the result of drinking psychedelic mushroom tea.
“I wanted him to admit this wasn’t the product of drug delusion,” Alexander said…
Alexander said Thursday that he thinks Wyatt’s plea deal sentence is appropriate.
“My office and my team worked very hard, and we’re satisfied,” Alexander said. “We saved Taylor’s family the agony from reliving the incident at the trial.”
Fallman maintains that his client didn’t kill Powell in a premeditated manner — “He was too damn high on drugs to premeditate it,” Fallman said — but after Wyatt decided at the last minute that he didn’t want to testify at the trial, and didn’t want his family members to testify either, Fallman concluded that a plea deal would be their only chance to secure Wyatt the possibility of parole:
[Fallman] said Wyatt would never see a parole board if found guilty of the special circumstances.
“We felt that if the jury got a hold of that and photos, they would slam him with every possible thing,” Fallman said.
If found guilty of all charges, Fallman said Wyatt could have faced at least three life sentences.
“He would’ve had to reincarnate a few times to serve the time,” Fallman said…He said Wyatt is very remorseful and apologized to Powell’s family when he pleaded guilty Thursday.