The Associated Press, Aug. 20, 2002
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A jury has convicted a man who said advice from a spiritual adviser and the Miss Cleo hot line led him to murder the wrong man in retaliation for a burglary.
Circuit Judge Martha Ann Lott sentenced Marcus L. Isom, 26, to life in prison without parole after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder for the execution-style shooting of Lemuel James Larkin.
The trial was the second time Isom had been to court for the Larkin murder. Last month, Lott declared a mistrial after jurors said they were deadlocked and unable to reach an unanimous decision.
Isom wrongly believed Larkin stole $15,000 in drug money from him and ordered his murder as punishment, prosecutors said.
Victor Smith, Isom’s drug partner, testified that he stole the money, told no one, then joined Isom to seek advise from the psychics.
A spiritual adviser, the Rev. James Towns, said Isom and Smith each visited him in Tifton, Ga., on separate occasions and asked who stole the money. Towns denied identifying the thief.
Smith said he told Isom that the spiritual adviser identified Larkin as the thief.
Isom asked another friend to call the Miss Cleo hot line and listened in to find out about the money, Smith said. The psychic said the thief was a friend of Smith’s and had a “facial dysfunction.”
Larkin had a bad eye.
Miss Cleo’s attorney, William J. Cone Jr., said he could not verify that Isom or his friends called the national Miss Cleo hot line.
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