Wamsley: "He Could Have Been Much More"

We're now in the sentencing phase of Andrew Wamsley's capital murder trial. (Friday afternoon, Wamsley was found guilty in the shooting and stabbing murders of both his parents.)

Yesterday's testimony was particularly compelling for those interested in finding out more about who Wamsley actually is. Testimony from former teachers, bosses and friends of his painted him to be a socially awkward, nerdy type prone to telling "tall tales" to impress others. He didn't have many friends and talked a lot about how well off his family was and how proud he was of what they'd accomplished by transforming themselves from apartment-dwelling working-class people to country-club neighborhood residents.

The defense brought in three members of the all-American, Cleaver-esque Atchley family, all of whom asked the jury to spare Wamsley's life. None of the Atchleys had seen or heard from Andrew since the summer of 2002, more than a year before he murdered his parents in December 2003.

Klint Atchley, a clean-cut 22-year-old theology student, says he was Wamsley's best--and only--childhood friend, right up until the time they graduated high school. "I love him like a brother," Klint said. "He's a strong-willed person that can really get things done. He can be a loving person one on one." He begged the jury to spare Wamsley's life, insisting, "I know Andrew, and I know his heart. I feel like even if he could have done this that there's no reason his life should be sacrificed...He can pay without having to die and be productive and be able to give back."

Karri Atchley, Klint's mother, offered perhaps the most emotional insight to Andrew's condition. "I feel that Andrew is someone who never found his niche," she said. "He never knew what it was that made him feel good about himself. He wasn't good at anything...He was someone that people overlooked, and I never knew why. He could have been much more than he was."

The jury's currently on extended recess and won't be back until Wednesday; expert mental-health witnesses testify for the judge today. —Andrea Grimes

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