Murder defendant Jacob Cayer, 29, has refused to show up for the second phase of his trial in the deaths of ex-girlfriend Sabrina Teague, 23, and her mother Heesun “Sunny” Teague, 64. He told the court in a remote feed Thursday morning that there was no point to showing up.
“I don’t want to be there,” he said.
The defendant made no secret of his contempt for the court.
“I don’t want to be present,” he said. “I do not like you people, and I’m going to give everything to the news later, so fuck y’all.”
Cayer then flipped the bird.
Jurors found the defendant of the Teague murders Thursday evening. They took less than an hour to make their decision.
Prosecutors said Cayer went to the victims’ home in a fit of rage, murdered Heesun Teague, cleaned himself off, then ambushed Sabrina and her boyfriend Joel Kennedy when they arrived. Kennedy survived after being stabbed through the arm and in his chest by managing to call 911. The defense tried to suggest the state lacked evidence to convict.
Jurors determined Cayer did it and convicted him of all charges, including first-degree intentional homicide and burglary. The question now is whether he can be found not guilty by reason of insanity or mental defect. (The defendant entered a double plea of both “not guilty” and “not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.” Thus, under Wisconsin law, his guilt on the core plea was determined first, while his mental status will be considered second in a second, back-to-back proceeding.) Whatever happens, he won’t be there to see it.
The defendant’s open contempt for the process was apparent when he testified Wednesday.
“You’re trying really hard, by the way,” he told the prosecutor. “It’s kind of funny.”
He had even flipped off the camera in a hearing before trial.
#AMBUSHEDatHOME – In Jacob Cayer’s final hearing last week via Zoom, he flipped off the camera and eventually his feed went down. The jail confirmed he threw the iPad. He has acted out multiple times in court and is pleading not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. https://t.co/TUaHtvS6N5 pic.twitter.com/jwkr4jVjku
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) August 7, 2020
Acting out is one thing, however. Mental culpability under the law is another.
Phase two of the trial began Thursday morning and is ongoing as of the time of this writing. Defense lawyer Anthony Cotton told jurors during opening statements that they will hear that Cayer is profoundly mentally ill.
Brown County District Attorney David Lasee acknowledged that Dr. Ken Robbins was brought into the case by his office — but that the analyst’s findings supported the defense. Lasee asserted the doctor’s statements were an opinion, told jurors they knew more about the case than Robbins did, and said that Robbins didn’t have everything the jury viewed.
The standard wasn’t whether Cayer had a mental illness today, he said. The question is what the defendant’s actions were during the June 7, 2016 murders and whether the defendant lacked the mental capacity.
A decision by the jury that the defendant is not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect would not result in his release. Rather, under Wisconsin law, he would be committed to the department of health services. The commitment period for intentional homicide includes up to life, even if the jury elects a not guilty verdict by reason of insanity.
Aaron Keller contributed legal analysis to this report.
[Screengrab Law&Crime Network]
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