Michael Kerby has said he drank a pint of vodka and 20 beers on the night he strangled Gerald Haag in his home south of Tumwater. But it's a motorcycle-related brain injury that Kerby's lawyer says is what most impaired his client's judgment that night. Such an injury, he says, has to be worth at least five years.
The Olympianreports today that Kerby's attorney Larry Jefferson is asking Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor to give his client a sentence five years below the normal range for second-degree murder because Kerby's brain injury makes him unable to "appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct."
Jefferson argues in court documents that because of a brain injury Kerby suffered in a 2006 motorcycle accident, his "capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law was significantly impaired . . . "
"It has been established that Mr. Kerby was a law-abiding individual that supported himself and his family before his brain injury," Jefferson wrote. "After his motorcycle accident he lost everything. He went from being a law-abiding person to a homeless veteran, brain-damaged and with no family support."
Haag's sister Cynthia Rodriguez, who was also in the house on the night her brother was killed, doesn't share Haag's lawyer's sympathies toward the killer's mental shortcomings. She thinks he should be executed--at the very least, not given a reduced sentence.
The judge will have the final call and closing arguments end today.