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Reader's Digest (India) - - Twice -

JUSTIN’S AT­TOR­NEY, Robert Wil­lis, gamely of­fered al­ter­na­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tions for each scrap of ev­i­dence. But Justin’s be­hav­iour in a dif­fer­ent court­room three years ear­lier may ul­ti­mately have swayed the jury.

Mid­way through the first-de­gree pre­med­i­tated mur­der trial, pros­e­cu­tors played a video de­po­si­tion Justin gave in 2003 as part of a civil case con­cern­ing in­sur­ance pro­ceeds. On the tape, the plain­tiffs’ at­tor­ney grills Justin on the at­tack, his af­fairs, his sex life with April. He claims not to re­mem­ber some key de­tails but an­swers even the most dis­turb­ing ques­tions with un­canny calm. His mouth is set in a down­ward curve, and he dabs his eyes once. Oth­er­wise, he shows lit­tle emo­tion. When the lawyer asks him to re­call the high points of his mar­riage, Justin says tersely, “We were in love.” Pressed for de­tails, he says, “I don’t re­call specif­i­cally.”

He seemed equally un­moved when the ju­rors of the crim­i­nal trial, af­ter 33 hours of de­lib­er­a­tion, an­nounced their ver­dict: guilty. His sup­port­ers wept, as did April’s mourn­ers. Justin barely blinked, even when the jury rec­om­mended the death penalty a week later. (Judge Ed­ward Hed­strom later sen­tenced him to life with­out pa­role.) Such de­tach­ment is a clas­sic symp­tom of so­ciopa­thy, says Univer­sity of Texas psy­chol­o­gist Shari Ju­lian, an ex­pert on the dis­or­der.

“The true mark of a so­ciopath is that he al­ways wears a mask,” Ju­lian says. They tend to be in­tel­li­gent, charis­matic, and mon­strously ma­nip­u­la­tive.

“He’s a very gen­tle per­son,” says Justin’s mother, Linda, who still be­lieves in his in­no­cence. “A good guy.”

But Am­ber Mitchell re­joices that the mask is off at last. “This has been a long, hor­ri­ble chap­ter in our lives,” she says. “I want the jury to know they got it right.”

Our true crime book, a com­pi­la­tion of the most grip­ping sto­ries we’ve pub­lished, is now on sale at ama­, google­,, and the iTunes Store.

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