April 1, 1993
Pensacola, Florida
Jason James Mahn (pictured) kills his father’s longtime love-in girlfriend and her son

Jason was 19 at the time of the murders, and had recently reconnected with his father with whom he had not had contact since his parents’ divorce when Jason was 3 months old. Jason lived with his father Michael on and off for a few months, sharing the home with Michael’s girlfriend Debra Shanko and her 14-year-old son Anthony. According to Jason after the fact, he thought of Debra as a friend and had positive feelings toward Anthony.

On April 1, 1993, Jason returned to his father’s home after an extended absence. According to Jason, he stabbed Anthony first, then Debra as she came to investigate Anthony’s screams. Again according to Jason, he attempted to find Debra’s car keys to flee. When he could not, Debra — who had been stabbed 42 times with as many as 5 wounds being fatal on their own — managed to get into her bedroom and give Jason her keys before telling him to leave.

Michael came home a short time later to find Debra’s body. Anthony was alive but in critical condition, having been stabbed 8 times including one mortal wound. He was able to state Jason had stabbed him before he succumbed to his injuries. Jason was quickly apprehended and confessed to the murders, vaguely stating he had acted out in anger and frustration against his father.

At trial, Jason attempted to claim the killings were a result of coming off an LSD-induced high, and brought forth allegations of child abuse which he suggested affected his mental stability. The allegations were corroborated by his mother Roxanne Thortis, who admitted to physically abusing Jason as well as using drugs and having intimate relations with partners in front of Jason when he was a child. Roxanne testified Jason was beaten with various objects including belts, wooden spoons, and on at least one occasion a lead pipe. Roxanne went on to explain her boyfriends would also beat Jason, sometimes in tandem with her. Friends spoke in Jason’s defense as well, noting his dependency on drugs and alcohol while a forensic psychologist testified a previous suicide attempt — involving 100 aspirin and 4 Contac cold and flu tablets — was indicative of someone with low impulse control. The expert diagnosed Jason as having “antisocial personality disorder, an extremely dysfunctional family background, and a resulting propensity toward criminal behavior.”

In contrast, an expert for the prosecution stated Jason showed no indication of “formal thought disorder and was in touch with reality.” Three psychological tests were administered to Jason which produced a “malingering” profile, “an individual who is trying to either greatly exaggerate his symptoms or completely make up a mental disorder” though it was acknowledged Jason’s abusive childhood was a factor in the murders.

The jury recommended a life sentence for Debra’s Murder and Death for Anthony’s, though the Judge overrode recommendations and handed down death sentences for both. In 2010, Jason’s death sentences were vacated in light of his IQ, which was recorded to be 88 (approximating his mental age to that of a 14-year-old).

“Man Gets 2 Life Terms For Double-Murder.” Sept 10 2010. https://www.wctv.tv/home/headlines/102033793.html
“Killer could face death penalty.” Pensacola News Journal. August 3, 2008

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