Jeffrey L. Dahmer’s bloody pattern of sexually motivated murder, dismemberment and cannibalism led him to feel that he was the devil, his attorney said Thursday.
“He became enamored, overwhelmed, caught up in the character in the (horror movie) ‘Exorcist III.’ The character was Satan because he was the personification of evil,” attorney Gerald Boyle said in his opening statement in Dahmer’s sanity trial.
Dahmer, 31, has pleaded guilty to 15 counts of murder but not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to the same charges. He faces mandatory life sentences on each count unless found not guilty by reason of insanity. Then he would be committed to a state mental institution, also probably for life. Wisconsin does not have capital punishment.
Addressing a courtroom that included Dahmer’s father and stepmother and family members of some of the victims, Boyle gave a graphic description of Dahmer as a man controlled by his raging sexual desires that focused on dead bodies.
Boyle told jurors that Dahmer was “not an evil man, this was a sick man,” afflicted with the psychological disorder of necrophilia, a desire to have sex with the dead.
Recounting Dahmer’s life, he described how, as a youth in Ohio, Dahmer was fascinated by the bodies of animals he found on the highway and brought home to cut up. At 14, Boyle said, Dahmer realized that he was a homosexual and first fantasized about having sex with a corpse.
Prosecutor Michael McCann, in his opening statement, described Dahmer as a clever plotter who carefully covered up his crimes.
McCann said Dahmer killed his victims so he could continue having sex with them after they were dead. “He wanted to continue the pleasure with their bodies,” he told the jurors.
Dahmer would have preferred sex with men who were alive, but he drugged and strangled his victims because they would always leave after having sex, McCann said.
“He enjoys the bodies for a day or two but then he becomes tired of them. It then becomes a disposal problem,” he said.
Two detectives later Thursday read their account of Dahmer’s 60-hour confession, given shortly after he was apprehended.
The dramatic opening statements and testimony marked the judgment phase in the worst multiple murder case in this city’s history. It began last July 22 when police entered Dahmer’s apartment west of downtown Milwaukee and found body parts of 11 of his victims.