George Pigman
George Pigman (Hand in)

PASADENA - Jurors heard closing arguments and have gone into deliberations in the murder trial of George Wood Pigman IV, accused of stabbing his Japanese-exchange-student girlfriend to death with barbecue tongs in May 2005.

Prosecutor Teresa Sullivan laid out her case against Pigman Thursday, saying the killing of Eimi Yamada 21, was premeditated and brutal.

Public defender Darby Williams, one of Pigman's attorney's, acknowledged that Pigman killed Yamada, but insisted that he should be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter instead of murder because he was mentally ill during the commission of the crime.

Pigman, the 27-year-old son of a Caltech professor, was found naked and covered in blood on a rooftop shortly after Yamada was found dead in her San Gabriel apartment in the early morning of May 7, 2005. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to first degree murder charges.

Sullivan began Thursday by recalling the testimony of a friend of Pigman's who saw him two days before Yamada was killed. The friend loaned Pigman his phone so that he could call Yamada, Sullivan said, and became upset after having a conversation with her. He told the friend Yamada had decided "to call it off" in an expletive-laced tirade, Sullivan said.

The next day, Pigman hung out with Yamada and another friend of hers at Yamada's apartment. The friend testified that Pigman was repeatedly smoking marijuana by himself. After the friend left, the two had sex at least once, Sullivan said.

At some point in the early hours of May 7, neighbors heard an argument in Yamada's apartment. A male voice was heard swearing, and then Yamada was heard "begging, pleading and crying," Sullivan said.

Heavy thumping sounds followed, and Yamada's body was later found by a concerned landlord.

Sullivan presented pictures of what she believed were telling wounds that Yamada sustained to her hands and forearms.

"The premeditation in this case I believe is shown by the evidence of the struggle," she said. "The evidence of her pleading, the evidence of her crying for help, telling him she loved him."

When Williams addressed the jury, she told them that the "bizarre" nature of the crime suggests that Pigman did not know what he was doing when he repeatedly stabbed Yamada to death in her bathroom.

"There was an equally reasonable explanation for what happened that night," she said. "That he was out of his mind."

Williams discussed the testimony of Dr. Joseph Ortego, a psychiatrist who examined Pigman at the Twin Towers jail days after his arrest and diagnosed him with Bipolar I disorder. Ortego said he believed Pigman suffered from a manic phase during the commission of the crime.

Dr. Barry Hirsch, a forensic psychologist hired by the prosecution to review Pigman's case, said Wednesday that Ortego's diagnosis was flawed and that Ortego did not do enough to rule out "malingering"- the faking of symptoms to obtain a benefit.

Both attorneys referenced passages from a journal Pigman wrote in jail. In it, he confessed to killing Yamada, writing that he believed he was God, that Yamada was the Virgin Mary, and that he had to kill her because she turned into a demon.

He also wrote that he had two other girlfriends and that he stole money from Yamada several times to buy marijuana.

"I prided myself on my cruelty," he wrote.

Jury deliberations will begin today.

nathan.mcintire@sgvn.com

(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4475