Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

MMA Fighter Pleads Guilty to Gruesome Murder

Jarrod Wyatt

Jarrod Wyatt

Jarrod Wyatt made a name for himself fighting viciously in the MMA cage, but when he was accused of the heinous murder of his sparring partner he decided not to fight.

Last week, Wyatt pleaded guilty to first degree murder involving mayhem, with a special enhancement for using a weapon — his trial was slated to begin today. The plea deal agreed to by both sides stipulates that Wyatt serve two consecutive sentences of 25 years to life — so the 27-year-old Wyatt will spend a total of 50 years to life in prison.

The details of Wyatt’s crime were shocking: after ingesting psychedelic mushrooms, Wyatt was driven to a bizarre murder. He attacked his friend Taylor Powell, 21 with a knife — gutting him and removing his heart, tongue and some of his face. The remains of Powell’s heart were found in a wood-burning stove in Wyatt’s home.

Wyatt’s attorney James Fallman’s contention was that his client was “too damn high on drugs to premeditate” the murder. Earlier last week, Fallman tried to obtain a plea agreement to second-degree murder (i.e., murder without premeditation), but Del Norte County DA Jon Alexander turned him down. “We wanted him to admit what he’d done to this poor kid,” Alexander told reporters.

Taylor Powell

Taylor Powell

Originally, Wyatt pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but in May the court ruled that Wyatt was competent to stand trial. Faced with the prospect of taking the stand in his own defense and having the gruesome crime-scene photos published in court, Wyatt decided to enter into the plea agreement. By pleading out, Wyatt’s defense team was able to get out of separate torture charges, which could have tacked on an additional life sentence if convicted.

According to his laywer, Wyatt did not want to subject the victim’s mother to the public scrutiny of a trial and the publication of the grisly photos of her son’s corps. Wyatt apologized to Powell’s family in court during his guilty plea.

Wyatt will not get the opportunity to face the parole board until 2062.

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