A jury found a man guilty of first-degree murder Friday in the killing of a 10-year-old girl, reaching its decision within minutes the day after hearing his macabre videotaped confession.
Kevin Underwood, a former grocery stocker who claimed Internet pornography stoked his cannibalistic fantasies, showed no emotion as the verdict was announced. Family members of the victim, Jamie Rose Bolin, patted each other and shook hands.
The girl's body was found in a plastic tub in Underwood's apartment in April 2006. Jurors had heard his detailed videotaped confession in court Thursday.
Judge Candace Blalock told jurors to return to court Monday morning for the penalty phase. Prosecutors have said they intend to seek the death penalty, while the defense has said it will seek to spare his life.
Deputies led Underwood, 28, away in handcuffs once jurors had left the courtroom.
Rose Fox, Jamie's grandmother, said after the verdict that she was originally against the death penalty in the case, but has now changed her mind.
"He made his choice," Fox said. "He's a monster in human form."
"I was for mercy. And then when I found out what he really did to her ... . He showed her no mercy."
Jurors began deliberating following closing arguments in which Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn predicted it would take jurors longer to pick a foreman than to determine guilt.
"It's the worst of the worst," Mashburn said. "His plan is to butcher someone like an animal."
In his closing argument, Defense attorney Matthew Haire did not dispute Underwood's guilt. But he called him "a lonely, very troubled, reclusive young man" and accused prosecutors of overwhelming jurors with gruesome evidence.
In the confession, Underwood said he lured the girl, his upstairs neighbor, into his apartment in Purcell, hit her with a cutting board, smothered her with his hands, sexually assaulted the body and nearly cut her head off as part of a fantasy involving cannibalism.
"I wanted to know what it tasted like, and just the thought of eating someone was appealing to me," Underwood said in the confession.
Underwood also said such fantasies began about the time he started taking the antidepressant Lexapro. Defense attorneys plan to call witnesses during the penalty phase on his use of the drug.