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5/7/2014 6:02:00 AM
Murder defendant's defense: Only half insane
Trial scheduled to start May 20
George Loader
George Loader
Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - The attorney for accused murderer George Loader will mount a fairly novel defense when his client's trial begins May 20.

Christian Ackerley on Monday told Superior Court Judge Steven Conn that he would argue Loader was insane when he cut up the body of his roommate and set fire to parts of it in the Kingman desert on Nov. 22, 2011 - but that he was not insane moments earlier when he shot John Oppenheim in the face with a shotgun.

The alleged killing occurred after Loader was reportedly told that Oppenheim might have molested his daughter, who was 3 at the time.

A physical examination reportedly revealed the girl had not been victimized.

Ackerley and prosecutor Greg McPhillips hashed out issues at Monday's final hearing before Loader's trial begins.

Conn noted that despite the grisly murder, the Mohave County Attorney's Office is not seeking the death penalty. Still, Loader faces more than 30 years in prison if a jury convicts him of first-degree murder and other charges.

And while Ackerley is expected to argue a hybrid insanity defense, the issue could come down to the credibility of doctors both sides have subpoenaed to testify.

There is significant disagreement between the doctors regarding Loader's mental health. Eighteen people had been subpoenaed to testify as of May 1, according to court records.

Loader, 37, has been in prison on an unrelated drug conviction for the past two years.

He and Oppenheim befriended one another when both were inmates in the Mohave County jail. Oppenheim, 51, moved into Loader's home, where he lived with Loader's wife, children and other relatives.

Loader allegedly went into a rage when his wife showed him what has been described as a red mark in the area of the toddler's genitalia, and that the girl pointed at Oppenheim when she was questioned about the mark.

Loader allegedly stood in his garage and shot Oppenheim in the face with a 12-guage shotgun and then decapitated the man and severed his limbs.

Prosecutors allege Loader took the remains to a dirt track off of Bank Street and set them on fire. Detectives recovered all of Oppenheim's remains minus his fingers at the burn site. It is unknown if the digits were ever recovered.

Detectives also allegedly obtained highly incriminating evidence at Loader's home, including the shotgun they believe was used in the killing, a bloody saw, blood-soaked clothing and human hair.

Ackerley said "drugs and the consumption of drugs" play a role in his "half insane" defense theory.

Loader is charged with possession of a weapon by a prohibited person and concealment or abandonment of a dead body, in addition to first-degree murder.

McPhillips and Ackerley agreed the trial would take two weeks to complete.

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