KETCHIKAN — A Metlakatla man who claimed he heard a command to kill was convicted of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his aunt.
A Ketchikan jury that began deliberations Friday convicted William Buxton, 30, after gathering for two more hours Monday.
He was convicted of killing Leona Meely, 67, in a violent Sept. 29 confrontation. Investigators say he knocked Meely down, stomped her, stabbed her six times and slashed her throat in the home they shared with Buxton’s mother. He used a cast on his right arm to hammer the murder weapon, a chef’s knife, into Meely’s throat.
The Ketchikan Daily News reports that Buxton in multiple interviews told investigators he was commanded to kill Meely by “the globe.” He said he smelled death shortly before killing his aunt, and that if he had not killed the woman, he would have become death. Buxton also told police and a doctor that he was possessed.
Juror Carol Towne said the panel discussed Buxton’s mental state and intent throughout deliberations.
“When jurors have questions, it takes a while,” Towne said.
Besides first-degree murder, jurors could have considered conviction on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, the charge sought by Buxton’s defense attorney.
Ketchikan District Attorney Stephen West said in closing arguments that intent can be formed in a split second and that according to Alaska law, “even crazy people” can form intent. By stabbing Meely multiple times, West said, Buxton showed he intended to kill Meely.
Public defender Sam McQuerry said Buxton could not have formed intent because he was not in a sound state of mind. That prompted West to respond that McQuerry was trying “to get an insanity defense without asserting an insanity defense.”
In Alaska law, an insanity defense applies only when a suspect is unaware of the repercussions of his actions or the effects on victims. West used the example of a gunman seeing someone as a wild animal and firing.
Buxton’s mother, Marge Buxton, testified at the trial that she was awakened by the sounds of her son and sister arguing at 2:30 a.m. Sept. 29 and she came out of her bedroom to see them engaged in a tug-of-war over a jacket containing cigarettes. She persuaded her sister to share the cigarettes, she said, and the three of them watched television for several hours.
At around 6 a.m., as she was in the kitchen, a second argument broke out, this time over a flashlight. Marge Buxton testified she heard a thud and walked out to see her son holding a chair and standing over her sister. She testified that she fought with her son over the chair, but that he stomped his aunt, dragged her into the kitchen and stabbed her with a chef’s knife.
Buxton will be sentenced Sept. 6.