Officer Testimony Rattles Defendant At Ax-Murder Trial

James William Cushing said he killed a Queen Anne woman with an ax after he heard voices and became angry at a shopping-mall security guard, a Seattle homicide detective testified yesterday.

Detective Stephen O'Leary told jurors hearing Cushing's aggravated-murder trial that shortly after his arrest last September, Cushing asked:

``Why didn't you arrest me sooner?''

Cushing, 37, who is developmentally disabled and has mental problems, became agitated and was calmed by his attorneys in King County Superior Court as O'Leary recounted statements he said were made at Seattle police headquarters in a videotaped session shortly after Cushing's arrest.

O'Leary said that he first showed Cushing a photo of the home of Geneva McDonald, the 63-year-old executive secretary who was hacked and stabbed to death last March, then asked Cushing if he had gone into the home.

``Yeah, but my Mom doesn't know or my therapist,'' the detective quoted Cushing as responding.

``Remember that lady that got killed?'' Cushing volunteered. ``I did that.''

Cushing said he was out of control, the detective said.

``I've got this anger problem,'' O'Leary quoted Cushing as saying. Cushing said he had not wanted to kill McDonald, the detective said, but he had become upset earlier while walking around the Westlake Center last March 13 when a security guard had hassled him.

According to O'Leary, Cushing said he had wanted to talk to someone. Cushing remembered walking into the McDonald home and going upstairs, then added:

``. . . The next thing I knew I was chopping her up.''

Cushing told the officer he took $25 from McDonald's purse and some jewelry from an upstairs drawer. He entered the home through an unlocked door and did not know McDonald, he said.

After the murder, Cushing told the officer, he ate some Cheerios and a banana, then lay down to rest before going to Tacoma.

``He said he hears voices,'' O'Leary told jurors before King County Superior Court Judge Frank Sullivan. ``They were loud and they told him to kill her.''

Then, O'Leary said he asked Cushing if ``we had the right guy'' and he said ``yes.''

Cushing told O'Leary that ``my whole life has been nothing. Up and down.'' Cushing, who has been in and out of institutions and group homes much of his life, indicated he knew right from wrong, O'Leary said in answer to questions from Deputy Prosecutor Susan Storey.

At one point, Cushing asked, ``Do you think I'm a psycho or what?''

O'Leary told the court that Cushing felt so bad about killing McDonald that he had considered suicide and had come close to jumping off a bridge.

Storey and co-Prosecutor Lee Yates insist Cushing knows right from wrong and that he should be convicted of first-degree murder. If found guilty, he will be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Defense attorneys Kelly Faoro and Mark Prothero say their client cannot distinguish right from wrong and should be found not guilty by reason of insanity. He then would be given a long period of mental treatment until he was safe to be returned to society.

Cushing is also charged with attempted murder and burglary, stemming from other break-ins that occurred near McDonald's home and in West Seattle about the time of the murder. One resident was stabbed, and in several incidents an ax was left inside the house and ``the killer is back'' was written on a wall.

The judge called a brief recess in the trial yesterday after an upset Cushing told Prothero he ``didn't think he could handle it,'' Prothero said. ``Just think about dinner,'' Faoro told Cushing in a comforting tone later as jailers led him away.

The prosecution is expected to rest its case today.