GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — A man on trial for his life for setting a man he met at a bar on fire and piling furniture on his naked body at a North Carolina hotel room yelled at police responding to the fire alarm that terrorists were attacking, according to trial testimony.
But a lawyer for Garry Gupton said that evidence shows his client’s psychiatric problems reached a critical mass and led to a breakdown when he couldn’t leave the Greensboro hotel room during the sexual encounter in November 2014.
Testimony in Gupton’s death penalty trial started Wednesday, the News & Record of Greensboro reported.
A firefighter called to the Battleground Inn testified he and a colleague were feeling around the room so filled with smoke they couldn’t see when he found a foot.
It took several firefighters to get White from Room 417 to the ambulance because his body was slippery from blood. Paramedics had to drill into the bone below White’s knee to get him fluids because the veins were gone in his arm.
The Army veteran died nearly a week later from burns so bad that parts of both arms had to be amputated.
Meanwhile, officers had Gupton in handcuffs in the motel parking lot and their body camera footage captured him screaming about terrorists and bombs in the hotel.
“They’re going to hurt you and anyone who gets in their way,” Gupton shouted. “Please make sure you and your fellow officers stay safe. There’s a bomb.”
No bombs or terrorists were found, police said.
Gupton’s lawyer Wayne Baucino asked jurors in his opening statement to keep an open mind. He said Gupton suffered from a number of mental problems that should keep them from sentencing him to death.
The trial could last three weeks.