Antron Singleton, an aspiring rapper, was insane when he cut open his female roommate, ripped out her lung and ate it, his defense attorney said Monday.
Last year, Singleton was found walking naked down Figueroa Street about 2 p.m., looking at the sky, mumbling and chewing. He was covered in blood, police said.
His murder trial in the death of his roommate, Tynisha Ysais, 21, opened Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Singleton's lawyer, Milton Grimes, conceded that Singleton had slashed Ysais' chest and chewed on her cheek. He told jurors that Singleton had committed the crime in a psychotic state brought on by a five-day PCP binge.
"PCP affects the brain to where people go back to their primal state," Grimes told jurors during Monday's opening statements. "You can do the acts of a beast ... because you don't have the conscience of a human being, and that's where this man was when he took this woman's life."
Singleton, who goes by the stage name Big Lurch, is charged with first-degree murder with the special circumstance allegations of infliction of torture and aggravated mayhem. Prosecutors said they would not seek the death penalty, however. If convicted, Singleton would face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Drew Josfan told jurors he would prove that Singleton was fully competent on the day of the killing, April 10, 2002. Singleton waited until the two were alone before he began the "torturing" assault, prosecutors said.
Ysais, a mother of two, "was alive while this was happening to her," Josfan said, referring to the consumption of her cheek.
She also was alive while Singleton hacked at her chest, Josfan said. Singleton cut her four times before he was able to break through, and the fourth incision was fatal, Josfan said.
Grimes said his client, who is a native of Texas, has a history of mental health problems stemming from drug abuse.
Singleton has been hospitalized three times for what Grimes called "PCP psychosis." During these episodes, Grimes said, his client becomes delusional and hallucinates.
Grimes said that when police questioned Singleton on the day of the murder, "he growled like an animal."
Singleton's delusions and hallucinations on April 10 came from the lyrics of his rap songs, Grimes said. "He acted out these thoughts, as bizarre as they were," the attorney said, referring to his client's violent rap lyrics. "He was out of his mind."