ST. FRANCISVILLE — Baton Rouge Magnet High School student Trevor Reese had a fascination with the protagonist in the television series “Dexter,” seeing the serial killer presented as a hero and Robin Hood figure, several medical professionals testified Thursday in Reese’s sentencing hearing.
Twentieth Judicial District Judge William G. Carmichael concluded the hearing Thursday by sentencing Reese, now 20, to life in prison without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence for the June 2010 murder of 8-year-old Jackson “Jack” Attuso, of Clinton.
“He committed murder in the false belief and delusion that he was a serial killer,” said Dr. Robert Davis, a psychologist.
The expert medical witnesses said Reese believed the act of killing someone would relieve him of the stress and anxiety he felt as a teenager unable to converse with, or relate to, his peers.
Despite outward appearances to his family and teachers, “he was uncomfortable in his own skin,” said Dr. Travis Phifer, a Shreveport psychiatrist who has been regularly seeing Reese.
“Trevor never thought he was Dexter, but he identified with him in some ways,” because the show depicts the protagonist “feeling better” after a killing, Phifer said.
“He (Reese) thought that if he killed, it would take him to a new level, that somehow it would relieve the anxiety. But he did not find it,” Phifer said, adding that he believes Reese has changed and no longer believes he needs to kill.
Davis, who interviewed Reese in 2010, said Reese was emotionally crushed when he did not get the relief he sought by killing the boy and questioned whether he should have chosen a female victim.
Davis said Reese wondered if he should have done something with the body, and discussed his thoughts about killing prostitutes, standing up their torsos, cutting off their arms and legs and “doing something with their hair.”
Reese dropped his insanity defense and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in March.
Carmichael was obligated by law to conduct a hearing to consider whether Reese should be eligible for parole at some time in the future because the youth was 16 when he cut the boy’s throat with a box cutter on a recreation trail in The Bluffs on Thompson Creek.
Reese’s attorneys, Lewis and Lance Unglesby, urged Carmichael to give their client at least a chance for a parole hearing 30 or 40 years in the future.
Carmichael rejected the argument that Reese was a confused 16-year-old at the time of the attack, noting that Reese was 51 days short of his 17th birthday when he killed Attuso.
“It is difficult to imagine a more heinous crime than the murder of an innocent child,” Carmichael said.
The boy was nearly decapitated according to testimony from several witnesses, including a psychologist who treats the boy’s mother, Monique Attuso, for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Dr. Owen Scott III, of Baton Rouge, said the boy’s mother, a medical doctor, discovered her child’s body on the side of the trail and was transformed instantly and unfairly from a shocked and grieving mother to a trauma physician given the hopeless task of saving her son’s life.
Sheriff’s Detective Shannon Tilley testified that Reese cut the tire on Jackson Attuso’s twin brother’s bicycle while the family and friends stopped at the creek, and Monique Attuso and the twins began walking back to the trail head with the disabled bike.
Jackson Attuso was attacked when he rode ahead to tell the rest of the party in the outing about the delay.
Contrary to what some may have believed, Jackson Attuso was not unsupervised and allowed to ride on the trail alone, Scott testified.
The judge noted that Reese came from a stable family, had a good education and functioned better than most teenagers.
“I believe Trevor Reese lived a life of privilege,” Carmichael said.
Lewis Unglesby said he expects to appeal the ruling because the law is still evolving.
Reese took the witness stand to tearfully say over and over again that he is sorry for killing the youngster and inflicting pain on his family.
“What are you asking for?” Lance Unglesby asked him at one point.
“Nothing. I’m just trying to explain as best as I can and say I’m sorry,” said Reese, who stared at the floor and twisted his swivel chair back and forth during much of his testimony.
Under cross-examination by District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla, Reese said, “I don’t want to get out of jail.”
“I’m not here to ask for mercy. I’m just here to explain,” he said.
“I wish I was dead,” he said at another point.
Reese’s father, Derek Reese, also apologized to the victim’s family.
Craig Attuso, the victim’s father, showed a picture of the family before his son’s murder and said, “the past few years have been difficult.”
“After hearing everything today, I ask that you impose the maximum sentence,” Attuso told the judge.
“It is my foremost hope, that if you ever leave prison, it will be feet-first in a pine box,” Wayne Attuso, the victim’s grandfather, told Reese.
West Feliciana Parish Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Randy Metz told the family after court that Reese would be transferred to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola on Thursday night.
An adult’s second-degree murder conviction in Louisiana carries an automatic life sentence without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence, but Reese is the second defendant sentenced in the Baton Rouge area under a new state law that tracks a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on life sentences for murders committed by juvenile defendants.
Nineteenth Judicial District Judge Trudy White recently sentenced 20-year-old Michael “Marlo Mike” Louding to life imprisonment without parole for the 2009 murder-for-hire of a Baton Rouge man.
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