A man who beat a street sleeper to death with a rock because he had “always wanted to kill someone” faces the possibility of life behind bars.
Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for a man who beat a rough sleeper to death simply because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Kevin James Pettiford said he was thinking about whether or not to kill Andrew Murray, 56, who was sleeping rough in Tweed Heads in far northern New South Wales in November 2019.
The 38-year-old was arrested shortly after intentionally killing Murray with several large rocks, making a full confession to investigators.
A jury in December rejected a not guilty plea by reason of mental disability and found Pettiford guilty of one count of murder and one count of attempted murder for a later incident in which he attacked a fellow inmate.
Pettiford told police he wanted to become Australia’s most prolific serial killer.
Kevin James Pettiford, 38, has been found guilty of one count of murder and one count of attempted murder.
Crown prosecutor Brendan Campbell told the court that life imprisonment was the only appropriate punishment.
Crown prosecutor Brendan Campbell told a hearing in the New South Wales Supreme Court on Thursday that a sentence of life imprisonment was the only appropriate punishment given the circumstances of the crime.
“It was a brutal and callous murder, which in my opinion falls into the worst category,” he said.
“It represented a denial of Mr. Murray’s humanity.”
Pettiford sat hunched in the dock wearing a green prison uniform as the court weighed his fate.
Campbell urged the court to reject the defense’s claim that Pettiford had some form of bipolar disorder and was in a manic state at the time.
He noted that Pettiford had weighed whether to commit the murder as proof that the attack was premeditated and that the killer was not in the grips of a manic episode.
The 38-year-old also delayed attacking an inmate, Nathan Mellows, on two occasions, once because he wanted to watch Test cricket on television and once to watch a Star Wars film, the court heard.
Defense lawyer Jason Watts said there were different degrees of manic episodes and that Pettiford’s presentation had been different since he started his current psychiatric medication regimen.
Murray’s daughter Kate gave a victim impact statement in the New South Wales Supreme Court on Thursday.
Murray’s daughter Kate told the court that Pettiford had deprived her of a future with her father, who had a “wicked sense of humor” and was often too smart for his own good.
“My father did not have the opportunity to walk me down the aisle at my wedding or have a father-daughter dance that I have seen so many of my friends enjoy,” she said in a victim impact statement.
“She won’t be here to see the birth of her first granddaughter.”
Murray said the loss of his father was compounded by the circumstances of his death.
“Our family is in deep pain and anger… over a choice, a bad choice,” he said.
Pettiford said he had the urge to kill from a young age and told police it “got worse” as he grew older and he didn’t know why.
He described himself as “emotionless” during the attack, hitting Mr Murray five or six times in the temple with three large stones.
“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. That was it,” he told police.
The matter is scheduled for sentencing on March 27.
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