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Defense rests; jury deliberates in Mack murder trial

Published: Monday, July 18, 2011 5:12 p.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 12:21 p.m. CST

As the jury made their way into the deliberation room at 2:30 p.m. today, members of murder victim Angie Ancer's family embraced, some sighed and others looked away.

After six days of statements and testimony, the 12-member jury in the first-degree murder trial of Newton man Jay Dee Mack will decide whether the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that on Oct. 9, 2010, Mack "acted with malice and forethought and the defendant acted willfully, deliberately and premeditatively with specific intent to kill Angie Ancer," as stated by the instruction of law read to the jury by Judge Paul R. Huscher today before the prosecution and defense gave closing arguments.

"Soon this will be your case," Jasper County Attorney Mike Jacobsen said to the jury as he began his summation. "Mr. Mack, through his attorneys, has tried to make this case about Angie Ancer. This case is about Mr. Mack. He's the one charged with murder in the first degree."

Jacobsen cited Mack's purchasing of the .38 special Winchester ammunition Aug. 17 after an argument allowing him to leave Ancer at a concert venue in Des Monies and Mack's own testimony of admitting to loading his weapon and waiting for Ancer at their home with the gun in his pants that same night as premeditation. He also reminded jurors that Ancer's cousin Larry Bensley testified that Mack told the victim, "next time I might just (expletive) kill you," on Aug. 17 and that 17-year-old Desmond Nichols testified he allegedly heard a male at Mack's residence at 203 E. 19th St. S. talking about shooting someone the afternoon of the shooting from a residence across the street.

During their closing arguments, the defense concentrated on malice, intent and forethought, arguing that because Mack "could have" planned his actions even in the final seconds leading up to the shooting, this still could garner a reasonable doubt.

Before the defense rested this morning, Mack's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Steven Addington, brought Mack's state of mind the night of the murder into question. In attempt to prove the defendant acted in passion and in provocation and gain a conviction of the lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter in the case, defense attorneys called an outside psychologist to analyze Mack.

Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia Dr. Donald Dotton was flown to Iowa from Vancouver to interview 16 subjects who directly knew the couple, administer an evaluation and testify to his findings in court.

According to his interviews and a test given to police cadets to gauge future violent acts called the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI2), the expert concluded that Mack was a typically non-violent individual with a "near zero" chance of repeating a violent act like the murder Oct. 9. He concluded that the Mack's acts were those of someone under duress.

However, Jacobsen pointed out that Dr. Dotton's analysis was admittedly theoretical and based on empirical evidence.

The prosecution asked the expert if Mack would have had as little predisposition to violence before the murder as the analysis shows his small risk after Ancer's murder, and Dr. Dotton told the jurors that the defendant's character suggests a "near zero" risk prior to the murder as well.

"And that didn't make any difference to the victim in this case now did it?" Jacobsen asked.

"That's right," replied Dr. Dotton.

During his deposition, Dr. Dotton also told Jacobsen that Mack never described any physical abuse during the his evaluation – an element that also did not come out in a police interview on Oct. 9, only surfacing during Mack's and character witnesses' testimony in court.

The psychologist told jurors that according to his evaluation, the night of the murder, Mack "ruminated" (meaning repeatedly considered something) after he left the house to retrieve his gun – a statement the prosecution used to attempt to prove premeditation in the incident.

Jurors will have to decide whether or not the state proved first-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt, or they will convict Mack on one of the lesser-included charges of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter. All convictions are attached with mandatory jail time, however, the lesser three convictions carry with them the possibility of parole.

The jury will continue deliberations Tuesday if a verdict cannot be reached by 5 p.m. today.

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