TACOMA — The murder trial of a neo-Nazi accused of beating a homeless man to death began Thursday.
Twenty-year-old Kurtis Monschke is one of four people accused in the brutal killing of 42-year-old Randall Townsend in March of last year.
The three others have already pleaded guilty to lesser charges and are expected to testify against Monschke during his trial on aggravated murder charges.
Ad: Vacation? City Trip? Weekend Break? Book Skip-the-line tickets
In court Thursday, prosecutors said the jury would hear and see graphic evidence of the brutal crime and how the defendant was seeking to spread his message of hate.
“This is a case about hate, about unquestionable ignorance and about murder,” Deputy Prosecutor Greg Greer told the jury.
Townsend had lived on the streets most of his adult life, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and a fear of people.
Monschke’s three friends are expected to tell the jury that after they beat and stomped all over the victim, Monschke delivered what would become the fatal blows with a baseball bat.
Prosecutors say Monschke was looking to make a random killing that night of “an inferior person.”
“The state is going to prove to you that Kurtis Monschke intended to kill Randall Townsend in order to obtain a higher status in this hierarchy of white supremacists,” Greer said.
But defense attorneys argued that Monschke was apart from the other three suspects and joined up with them only after they fatally injured Townsend.
“The evidence will show that Kurtis was not there when they smashed him in the face with rock. The evidence will show that Kurtis was not there when they were moving Randall Townsend’s body around,” said Monschke’s attorney Jay Berneburg.
The case is expected to last several weeks, with plenty of complicated testimony on the inner workings of white supremacist organizations and followers.
To prove aggravated murder, prosecutors must show something made the crime worse than most killings.
In this case, prosecutors say since the defendant was looking to raise his position within a white supremacist group, that criteria is met.
Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty, so a guilty verdict would mean life in prison with no chance of parole.