A Portage County jury found Andrew Pray guilty of first degree intentional homicide. That was the most serious of the possible charges, meaning Assistant District Attorney Cass Cousins was able to convince the jury of Pray’s intent to kill his stepfather, Christopher Bonnstetter.
Cousins is satisfied with the outcome. “Yes, I’m very happy with the outcome and the jury’s verdict. We charged this as first degree intentional because I believe, ultimately, that’s what happened. This was an intentional act, and the jury agreed.”
The jury had to choose between first-degree intentional homicide and reckless homicide, where Pray could have been sentenced for causing Bonnstetter’s death without trying to kill him. Cousins says earlier in the case, attorney’s were trying to say Pray was insane due in part to his autism. “It was initially a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. That was withdrawn after one of the doctors from the state evaluated the defendant and determined that, in his opinion, Andrew did not qualify for that plea.”
The jury needed over five hours to deliberate, and they decided Andrew Pray was guilty of the most serious charge of intentionally trying to kill his stepfather with an aluminum baseball bat. Cousins believes the jury carefully considered the evidence, and came to the same conclusion he had come to. “Ultimately though, I think it just comes back to the actual event that occurred, and really the sheer brutality and the violence of the crime, and you use your common sense, which I urged the jury to do. Looking at that, it’s really hard to get away from this as being very, very intentional.”
Defense attorneys tried to show Pray’s actions are different and explainable due to his multiple neurological disorders including autism. Cousins told the jury the testimony was irrelevant because Pray showed intent. “There was a diagnosis, but again, I would suspect they came back around to the pure circumstances of what occurred, and made a decision based on that.”
Sentencing will be June 9th after a pre-sentence investigation is completed.