A U.S. Marine veteran, who told authorities he had been contracted by a secret government agency to carry out the killing of a California construction worker, has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Mikhail Schmidt, a former military sniper who did six tours in Iraq, will spend the rest of his life behind bars after he was convicted of murdering Jacob Bravo over two years ago.
Schmidt claimed throughout the trial that a clandestine government anti-terrorism agency known as “Agent Orange” had hired him to identify and eliminate Bravo. He also said he believed he had been injected with nanobots that had the ability to control his mind, NBC San Diego reported.
“I identified this one gentleman as the target that Agent Orange wanted me to eliminate,” Schmidt told the court, according to the NBC affiliate. “At that point in time I was working for Orange, and so I was doing their bidding at the time."
“That night, my nanobots were activated,” Schmidt continued in court, according to the San Diego Tribune. “Afterward, I knew, I am working for this agency now.”
Schmidt’s lawyer, Brad Patton, described the ruling in his client’s case as “way too harsh.”
“It’s excessive and harsh given the circumstances we were dealing with,” Patton told Oxygen.com.
Patton said Schmidt, a triathlete who worked at a sports goods store, was delusional around the time he killed Bravo.
“There was substantial issues related to his mental state at the time this incident occurred,” Patton explained. “He had absolutely no motive, incentive, whatsoever to commit this offense other than the reasons he had indicated which were his delusions that he was working on behalf of a secret government agency.”
Patton said an MRI showed Schmidt had brain deterioration following a series of head injuries, which he claimed played a significant role in Bravo’s murder. He also noted Schmidt had once crashed into the side of a building while doing parachute training as part of his military exercises.
Patton, who said his client had spent roughly eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed on multiple combat missions to Iraq, had intensive post-traumatic stress disorder from his time as a sniper. He noted that Schmidt was a sergeant at the time of his honorable discharge in 2013.
“It was a traumatic time in his life,” Patton said. “The combined deterioration of his mental state, predicated upon the head trauma he experienced growing up, and then also the Marine Corps and that tied in with his combat missions and the PTSD he was diagnosed with.”
However, during the trial, a forensic clinical psychologist described Schmidt as a “pathological liar” who “pretends emotions like love or remorse based on social cues,” KNSD reported.
On a March evening in 2017, Schmidt supposedly stalked Bravo in the coastal city of Oceanside, California. Schmidt had left a liquor store and headed onto a residential construction site, where he then crept into a trailer where Bravo slept. There, Schmidt knifed him to death, the San Diego Tribune reported.
“I played it out in my head so many times how to do it,” Schmidt said in a confession video.
While sitting with investigators during the video confession, he cracked jokes, burst out laughing at times, and told them he “craved the taste of blood.”
“I’ve needed it,” Schmidt said to detectives. “There was no rhyme or reason behind why I chose [Bravo]."
After carrying out Bravo’s killing, Schmidt calmly recalled returning home, doing laundry, cleaning, and playing with his dogs before heading to bed. He awoke the next morning thinking the murder had been a “crazy dream,” according to the San Diego Tribune.
Bravo's mother addressed her son’s killer following Schmidt’s sentence.
"You said, 'He's nobody,' and so I decided to speak," Kathleen Bravo said, KNSD reported. "You do not get to decide whose life has value or not."
The woman described her late son as a “one-of-a-kind” and a little spitfire.
“He was funny, stubborn, creative, smart, hyper, and soft-hearted,” Kathleen added.
Schmidt’s lawyer said he expects his client will be transferred to a state prison sometime in the next two weeks.
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