Man Who Beat Teenagers To Death With Bat Claims Insanity


A man who is standing trial for having savagely, and fatally, beaten his cousin and another teenager with a baseball bat claims that he was suffering from borderline personality disorder.

Jonathan Nodal, now 23, is facing life in prison for the murders of his cousin, Justin Morejon, 18; and Morejon’s girlfriend, Karen Urbina, 16 in 2002. The trio had been painting Morejon’s bedroom and sharing a spaghetti dinner peacefully, until Nodal, then 17, broke a drinking glass. That’s when he snapped, say prosecutors.

Although Morejon began to clean up the broken glass and reassured Nodal that it wasn’t a problem, Nodal nevertheless flew into a rage. He grabbed a black aluminum baseball bat from a bag and bashed Morejon on the head with it, then began beating Urbina. When Morejon tried to escape from the house, his cousin hit him repeatedly with the bat, eventually killing him. He then tracked down Urbina, who was in the kitchen, and killed her as well—despite her pleas with him to stop. According to prosecutor Marie Mato, he then put his hand over Urbino’s mouth and nose to make sure that she was no longer breathing.

The accused killer called Miami-Dade police, telling them at first that a “black man” in a sports jersey had broken into the house and killed the teenagers. His story didn’t hold up, however. First, the 911 call hadn’t made much sense; Nodal had told the dispatcher that he had fallen asleep in the kitchen, only to wake up and find the intruder beating his cousin’s girlfriend, but he couldn’t remember when this had taken place. The fact that his clothes were covered in blood was also suspicious.

After being questioned by detectives for several hours, Nodal confessed to the beatings. Later, blood spatter patterns would reveal that he had been close to the victims during the crime. Now his attorneys say that although Nodal did use the bat to beat the two teens, he had been insane at the time, suffering from borderline personality disorder.

Nodal was tried two years ago for the murders of Morejon and Urbina; in that trial, jurors rejected his insanity defense and found him guilty. The conviction was thrown out, however, because an earlier judge had neglected to order neuropsychological testing for the accused.

Nodal, a high-school dropout, faces life in prison if he is convicted on the two counts of first-degree murder. If acquitted by reason of insanity, he would probably be sent to a psychiatric hospital, where he would live out his life under court supervision.


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