Mcatlin testifies that it took him 10-15 seconds to stab woman to death

Kevin Ray Mcatlin, on trial for murder, takes the stand in 5th District Court, St. George, Utah, April 18, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE Kevin Ray Mcatlin, on trial for first-degree murder, took the stand Thursday in 5th District Court and testified that he confronted the victim, Elizabeth Ashley Carter, after discovering that drugs and money had been stolen from him while he was in the shower at her apartment.

Kevin Ray Mcatlin, on trial for murder, is cross-examined by prosecutor Zachary Weiland in 5th District Court, St. George, Utah, April 18, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

After Mcatlin’s testimony, defense attorney Ed Flint presented a recent modification to Utah law that could be a possible game-changer in the case.

Mcatlin testified to the events leading up and including when he stabbed Carter to death June 2 in her apartment on North Bluff Street where she was discovered 11 days later.

A majority of his testimony matched the 58-minute confession recorded and played in court Wednesday, with a few clarifications and details the defense said were not provided in the recorded version.

Mcatlin said he met Carter for the first time at a get-together in Toquerville, and they later went to her apartment.

Mcatlin testified that $2,000 in drugs were stolen while he was in the shower there, drugs that he purchased with $1,000 cash and the remainder on credit to be paid to his dealer.

He claimed that Carter and a man who visited the apartment that morning, Calvin Black, took the drugs and about $200 that was in his wallet.

He said he didn’t know the drugs were missing until after Black left, which is why he only confronted Carter “within a very short time of Calvin leaving.”

The confrontation escalated and the stabbing happened “very fast – maybe 10-15 seconds,” he testified.

Mcatlin said that when he lifted a couch cushion to place over Carter’s body he found the two bags of drugs hidden under it.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Zachary Weiland said Mcatlin continued stabbing the victim even after she fell over on the couch, evidenced by what appeared to be stab marks in the cushion. But Mcatlin denied that, saying he stopped and then she fell over onto the couch. He also testified that he panicked, saying he “tried to stop the bleeding at first, but that wasn’t working,” which is why he placed her in the bathtub.

Flint rested his case after Mcatlin testified, then told the judge he wanted special circumstances to apply to this case, similar to what he proposed during his opening statement.

During that statement Flint told jurors he would prove that his client committed a reckless act after he believed he was being robbed, that it was “an imperfect self-defense,” which is a modified version of self-defense that mitigates murder to manslaughter as long as a defendant had an honest belief that he was in imminent danger and force was necessary, whether that belief was reasonable or not.

Read more: Defense: Mcatlin guilty of homicide but not murder in stabbing death of St. George woman

That defense no longer applied after the prosecution asked Mcatlin if he was scared of Carter after she had slapped him during the confrontation and he replied “no,” which took manslaughter off the table.

Flint then invoked a recent modification approved by the 2019 Utah Legislature that applies to certain murder cases: House Bill 400, which says that if a defendant is “under the influence of extreme emotional distress that is predominantly caused by the victim’s highly provoking act immediately preceding the defendant’s actions,” that would cause “an objectively reasonable person to be incapable of reflection and restraint.”

In other words, when Black and Carter took Mcatlin’s drugs that were not entirely paid for, it caused him extreme emotional distress, and since the defendant confronted Carter within minutes of Black leaving – a confrontation that took less than a minute from start to finish according to the defendant – the modification applies to this case.

Judge G. Michael Westfall ruled the special circumstances clause applies in this case, and that option will be included in the jury instructions.

“If all of the evidence taken together gives weight to the special circumstance then special circumstances apply, and with the recent changes in the law we want to get it right,” Westfall said.

Flint said this case could be the first to apply the modification, which officially goes into effect May 15 but can be applied to Mcatlin’s case.

Jurors will be instructed to first decide whether the defendant is innocent or guilty of murder. If they find Mcatlin guilty, a second vote would decide whether the special circumstances apply. If so, he would be sentenced under the manslaughter guidelines of one to 15 years, as opposed to first-degree murder, which carries a sentence of 15 years to life.

The details of the instructions were still up for debate Thursday afternoon, which delayed closing arguments until Friday morning, after which the jury is scheduled to begin deliberations.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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