Lawrence businessman was drugged before woman cut his throat, detective testifies

05/16/2014 8:08 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

A 19-year-old woman accused of killing a Lawrence businessman whose home she shared told investigators she drugged the man before binding his wrists and ankles and cutting deeply through his throat, police testified Friday.

Sarah Gonzales McLinn also said after her January arrest that she wanted “freedom from her life” and that the victim, 52-year-old Harold Sasko, also got freedom, Lawrence police Detective M.T. Brown testified at McLinn’s preliminary hearing.

McLinn was bound over for trial Friday on charges of first-degree murder and theft, with a date tentatively set for Aug. 4. Her lawyer, Carl Cornwell, filed a motion earlier Friday of his intent to rely on a defense of mental disease or defect.

McLinn worked for Sasko at one of three CiCi’s Pizza restaurants he owned in Lawrence and Topeka. Sasko’s relatives have said he let her move into his home while she was having personal problems.

Police went to Sasko’s home and found his body Jan. 17, after McLinn’s family reported her missing. She was arrested Jan. 25 after a security officer at Everglades National Park in Florida found her asleep in Sasko’s car.

Cornwell has said his client never denied killing Sasko and the case would center on a motive.

Brown, who interviewed McLinn after her detention in Florida, testified that she drank beer with Sasko and put five crushed sleeping pills in his beer. Detective David Axman said forensic tests discovered traces of the pills in a beer can.

Brown said McLinn told him Sasko continued to drink until he collapsed on the floor. McLinn told Brown that she then zip-tied Sasko’s ankles and wrists before retrieving a hunting knife, feeling for a pulse and plunging the knife directly into his artery.

Brown testified that Sasko had sent a text message days before his death to apologize for trying to have sex with McLinn. But during their interview, McLinn told Brown she killed Sasko because she “wanted to see what it felt like to kill someone.”

McLinn told him she had violent thoughts and decided five days before Sasko’s death that she would kill him.

Brown also testified that McLinn said she practiced first on a rabbit that she bought, killed, skinned and ate at home with Sasko.

Brown said McLinn told him she fled because she knew she would get caught but first wanted to see the ocean in Texas. From Texas she drove to Florida, getting several tattoos and sleeping at rest stops along the way.

Brown also said McLinn told him Sasko had previously discussed killing himself because of business and family issues.

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