washingtonpost.com  > Print Edition > Style
Page 4 of 5  < Back     Next >

Murder, Incorporated?

But when pressed, Patton admits she doesn't really have any evidence to support her diagnosis, except, of course, the fact that Mickel shot a cop, bragged about it and is now holding up a black-and-white ball in a courtroom in California.

Live Free or Die

Several days after the slaying of Mobilio, Mickel flew from Washington state to New Hampshire and checked into a Holiday Inn in Concord, across the street from the statehouse.


Andrew Mickel, accused of killing California police officer David Mobilio, says he incorporated as "Proud and Insolent Youth." (Jim Cole -- AP)

The Mickels spoke by telephone with their son the day before his arrest. During their conversation, according to others who have knowledge of the phone call, Andy Mickel confessed to the killing. His parents turned him in.

"You know, in many criminal cases, people won't step up and say what they know, and this is their son," says Springfield Police Chief Steve Moody, who was the first investigator to interview the Mickels. "Even though he did this horrific act, even though they love their son. They did the right thing."

In one of his online postings before he was arrested, Mickel says he chose New Hampshire because its state constitution contains a passage offering what he interpreted as the right of citizens to revolt: "Whenever the ends of government are perverted and public liberty manifestly endangered and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may and of right ought to reform the old or establish a new government."

Mickel was arrested the next day at the Holiday Inn. For hours he was surrounded by a SWAT team, which tried to coax him out. Finally, they agreed to Mickel's request to allow him to speak with a local reporter, Sarah Vos of the Concord Monitor, who was handed a telephone in the hotel lobby and told by agents just to listen. Vos told reporters at the scene that Mickel said, "I killed a cop in Red Bluff, California, in an effort to protest police brutality" and asked her to read his declaration of independence posting. And then he came out with his hands up.

At his New Hampshire arraignment, Mickel appeared shirtless, wrapped in a blanket, with a bandage around his head. Police told reporters he had declared himself a political prisoner.

His parents hired an attorney, Mark Sisti, to defend him and Sisti quickly sought to challenge Mickel's competency. Sisti got a mental health expert to examine Mickel and his writings. That report was sealed by the court, Sisti says. His client fought him all the way.

"Significant psychiatric disorders were identified," is all Sisti will say of the sealed report. The lawyer says the judge in New Hampshire ruled that the court did not need to hear evidence on Mickel's mental competency because it was an extradition hearing. As Sisti sought to file an appeal with the New Hampshire Supreme Court, Mickel was shipped out to California, and the matter of competency was dropped.

A Prisoner's Story

From jail, Mickel has corresponded with friends. In one letter, he insisted that he was fighting for everyone's rights and warned his friend not to judge him. Mostly, though, his letters are chatty.

But Mickel sent his friend Poston a copy of a story he had written, titled "The Just Barely Short of Holy Bible (The Story of Uz) by Andy Mickel." The text is a jumble. Biblical. Hectoring. Violent.

Over the 20 pages, the "Author" puts the "Character" through anguish and torment -- attacked by monster birds "with their giant razor beaks," the protagonist covered in boils and blood, "castrated and paraded before lovely women."

At one point, the Character says, "I have been sent by ANDREW, Author of the Story. Thus saith He -- Let My People Go!"

Then the Author Andrew becomes God.

Later, the text breaks into large print, capital letters: "JEHOVAH!!! YOU IDIOTIC WHORE!!! YOU MAGGOT!!! YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND THIS, DOWN HERE!!! YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING, YOU TYRANT!!! YOU DON'T LOVE ME!!! YOU DON'T LOVE ME!!!!! BUT I DON'T CARE, BECAUSE I HATE YOU!!!!!"

Toward the end, the Character is hanged on his "new age" crucifix. "That's how the story ends -- Character went to Hell," Mickel wrote.

But there is a coda, where the Character enters a kind of Heaven "without boredom, without depression." On the last page of his story, Mickel scrawled a crude, sad-eyed cartoon face with a screaming, open mouth, and in the back of the figure's throat, Mickel inked, "I'm finished with exams."

'Something Important'

A week before the start of his trial, Mickel agrees to speak with a Washington Post reporter at the Colusa County jail. He is brought into the visiting room, wearing an orange striped shirt, orange drawstring pants and slippers. In the beginning, he looks nervous and shy. He carries a manila folder and a pen and pad.


< Back  1 2 3 4 5    Next >

© 2005 The Washington Post Company