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Twitchell admits killing Altinger

Mark Twitchell took the stand in his own defence Wednesday, his lawyer telling the jury his client will admit to his role in Johnny Altinger's death, but that it was a terrible misunderstanding and not a murder.
Mark Twitchell
Mark Twitchell

Mark Twitchell took the stand in his own defence Wednesday, his lawyer telling the jury his client will admit to his role in Johnny Altinger's death, but that it was a terrible misunderstanding and not a murder.

In his opening statement, Charles Davison said that Twitchell is responsible for Altinger's death.

“He is going to confess to you and admit to you that he is responsible for the death of Mr. Altinger,” Davison told the jury.

He emphasized that simply being responsible for the death did not make Twitchell guilty of the murder and that there are varying degrees of criminal responsibility.

He told the jury that when Twitchell told his version of events they might find them reprehensible and unforgivable, but they had to keep their focus on criminal guilt.

Twitchell took the stand and admitted to much of the evidence that has already been presented, but said the entire affair was part of a new idea he had for psychological thrillers.

His idea, which he explained in a roundabout fashion, was to create a feature film, book and an online urban legend that would keep the audience suspended in their disbelief about the truth of the events.

He said he realized the House of Cards movie he shot with friends had the potential to be expanded upon.

“I planned for sequels and other versions of it to continue on.”

He called the broader concept, “Multiple format psychosis layering entertainment” and said the movie would be followed with a novel. Online messaging boards would feed the impression it was a true event.

He said the novel would draw from real life so that people would assume the event had actually taken place.

“There is enough of it that you can check it in reality to believe that it actually occurred.”

In describing the attack on Altinger, Twitchell said he told Altinger after he had come back to the garage for the third time that it was all a ruse and he explained his entertainment concept. He said Altinger became angry and defensive and called Twitchell pathetic.

He told the jury the two men struggled after Altinger kicked him in the back. He said at one point he believed Altinger was going to smash his laptop and he moved towards it, but Altinger thought he was going for one of two metal pipes that were also laying on the table.

He said he pulled it out of Altinger's hand and in the ensuing struggle and hit him several times with it, including once on the head.

He said Altinger then took the pipe back and Twitchell tried to stand back from him. Twitchell said at that point he unhooked the clasp of a military knife he had on his belt, simply to show to Altinger they were on equal footing.

“I thought that would send a clear enough message,” he said on the stand.

Altinger rushed forward, according to Twitchell, and he instinctively pulled the knife out and stabbed the man.

Twitchell said he panicked and froze for minutes after Altinger was stabbed and described a “war inside his head,” between calling 911 to aid Altinger while at the same time realizing how bad the situation would look if anyone were to see it.

Twitchell said he had briefly studied medical textbooks and knew Altinger was past hope.

“I knew I had to have gotten him in the descending aorta and he was going to bleed out super fast.”

He said he came to the conclusion the man was dead and shut down his emotions so he could get along with the gruesome task at hand.

“I tried to tell myself it wasn't him anymore, the man's not there just a shell.”

Twitchell admitted the “SK confessions document” is a relatively accurate portrayal of the process he took to dismember the body and ultimately dispose of it down a sewer.

These parts of his testimony brought Twitchell to tears while on the stand. He said unlike the confident killer portrayed in the SK document, which he admitted he wrote, he was absolutely disgusted by the murder and incredibly guilty.

“I felt a lot weaker, like a piece of scum, a piece of shit.”

He said the details in the document about trying to burn the remains and ultimately disposing of them in a sewer were accurate.

Twitchell also admitted to breaking into Altinger's apartment in the days after the murder, erasing the dating profile message and sending out fake emails and Facebook messages to Altinger's friends.

He said that was part of a broader approach of failing to confront the weight of the issue.

“It really just comes down to me trying to run away from the situation that I should have faced head on.“

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