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Man Says He Was Having Breakdown When He Killed Family

June 8, 1991

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ A man who pleaded guilty to killing his family says he had gone a week without sleep and suffered from a brain disorder when he picked up a semiautomatic rifle and shot his wife and two children.

Jimmy Earl Deason, 31, of Fayetteville entered his pleas Friday to the three March 15, 1990, slayings. As part of a plea bargain, he was sentenced to 40 years on each count, with the sentences served concurrently.

″I was kind of having a nervous breakdown. Something happened to me. I picked up an M-1 carbine and shot my wife while she was in the bathroom,″ Deason told Washington County Judge William Storey.

Deason said the first bullet went through his wife, Katherine, 32, and struck his daughter. Julieann, 3, was standing behind her mother in the bathroom of the couple’s mobile home.

Deason said he then reloaded the rifle and shot his son, Sean, 1.

″Yes, I believe I intended to shoot them all, sir,″ he told the judge.

The judge sentenced Deason in accordance with a plea agreement between defense attorney Jerome Paddock and Prosecutor Andrew Ziser.

Deason said he has been taking about 10 pills a day, including lithium and tranquilizers. Paddock said Deason suffers from ″an organic mood disorder″ that caused radical mood swings.

Paddock said he wasn’t sure whether a jury would have accepted an insanity defense.

″Juries in general feel like they’re turning someone loose. I’m just satisfied that Jim’s not exposed to the possibility of death penalty or life in prison without parole. He’s told me he misses his family.″

Ziser said a trial likely would have ended in a hung jury.

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