Former Student Convicted in Football Coach’s Murder


A man accused of murdering an Aplington-Parkersburg football coach and teacher in June 2009 was found guilty of first-degree murder.

Prosecutors said Mark Becker, 24, a former player of the football team, walked into the high school weight room and shot Thomas with a .22-caliber pistol at least six times, according to the Associated Press. Additionally, students who were present during the shooting testified that Becker continued to pull the trigger after the gun was empty.

Becker’s defense team said the suspect was innocent due to his being insane at the time of the incident. They said the night before the shooting, Becker had delusions and believed that Thomas was Satan. Additionally, psychiatrists testified that the defendant believed invisible forces were pushing down on his eyes.

The prosecution also acknowledged that although Becker suffered from a mental illness, the plan was calculated, as he took practice shots with the weapon he used to kill the coach.

The guilty verdict carries a mandatory life-in-prison-sentence.

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