A 20-year-old University of Wisconsin dropout pleaded guilty Monday on a single count of first-degree intentional homicide of a Madison resident.
Adam Peterson, a Minnesota native, confessed to killing Joel Marino, 31, on Jan. 28. Marino was repeatedly stabbed in the chest and abdomen with a four-inch paring knife in his home on 714 W. Shore Drive around 1:20 p.m.
After his June arrest, Peterson was hospitalized and diagnosed as psychotic and schizophrenic. Despite taking three medications within 24 hours of his trial, Dennis Burke, Peterson’s attorney, said Peterson was competent to enter the plea.
“The plea was freely given,” said Burke, who further said Peterson’s medication enhances his comprehension and understanding.
In the courtroom, Peterson wore a black, smock-like suicide-prevention suit. He had previously attempted to hang himself in the Dane County Jail mid-September.
“I think this kid is very troubled and has all kinds of issues, and I hope this is factored into whatever sentence is rendered,” said Melvin Peterson, Adam’s father.
Burke said Peterson was very unhappy in the Dane County Jail and hopes for different living conditions in prison. Burke added Peterson’s unhappiness was not a contributing factor to his plea.
Peterson, who was lucid at the time of Marino’s slaughter, accidentally confessed to the slaying in a police interview, and Burke said his mental illness is not evidence to prove his innocence. Peterson’s DNA also matched the samples taken from the knife used to stab Marino.
Melvin Peterson said a trial was not anticipated by either party, but said he hopes his son’s conviction is the first step toward closure.
“I hope that this is one step toward closure for both the Marino family and my family,” Peterson said.
Melvin Peterson added he would like to meet with the Marino family to express his deepest condolences for the loss of Joel Marino. He added both families had their sons taken from them, and at the right time, he would like to express his utmost sympathy to the Marino family.
Lou Marino, father of victim Joel Marino, does not want to meet with the Peterson family, adding he hopes Peterson is sentenced to life imprisonment.
“He took 54 years of my son’s life away. … He destroyed the lives of my family, his brothers and friends,” Marino said.
He said his son’s murder was a random act and thinks Peterson was looking for something to convert to quick cash.
Adam Peterson faces mandatory life in prison without the right to petition extended supervision. His sentencing will be in 60 to 90 days by Dane Country Circuit Court Judge James Martin. He is to spend a minimum of 20 years in prison.
Melvin Peterson said he would visit his son for the last time in the Dane County Jail Monday before he is transported to prison.
“I’ll tell him I love him. I’ll tell him I love him no less now than I did a year ago,” Melvin Peterson said, adding he is still seeking an explication for what happened the day of Marino’s homicide.