As Jason Aaron DeLong sat slumped over in a chair watching the state of Maryland present a first-degree murder case against him, his father was a thousand miles away in Florida worried about taking the stand in his defense.
"It hurts me to no end," Donald DeLong said Friday in a telephone interview from his Jupiter, Fla., auto repair shop. "This not the way I want to see my son for the last time, on the stand for murder."
Mr. DeLong is expected to be the first witness called by his son's attorneys tomorrow as they begin to present a defense based on a plea of insanity.
Jason DeLong is charged with fatally stabbing his mother, Cathryn Brace Farrar, and her boyfriend, George William Wahl, in her Westminster apartment last summer. Jason, 19, has pleaded innocent and not criminally responsible, saying he stabbed his mother after a lifetime of her sexual and physical abuse caused him to snap on July 29, 1993.
The elder Mr. DeLong is expected to tell the nine-woman, three-man jury hearing the case about his ultimately futile efforts to save his son. Jason was shuttled between Florida -- where his father and the father's new wife lived -- and North Carolina and Maryland, where Ms. Farrar lived.
Although his son's defense is based on insanity, Mr. DeLong indicated he doesn't doubt his son has a grip on reality.
Ms. Farrar, 39, and Mr. Wahl, 35, were stabbed more than 100 times. In a police tape played in court, Jason DeLong confessed to the killings. He said "something inside me just snapped," causing him to plunge a hunting knife into his mother as she was taking a sip of coffee. His girlfriend of one week, Sara Elizabeth Citroni, 18, pleaded guilty to the killings last month.
"Insanity is a legal term, not a medical term," Mr. DeLong said. "If you ask me if he knew right from wrong, I'd say, 'Yeah.' "
Jason DeLong, court records show, was neglected by his mother as a child and often lagged behind his peers in school. He and his attorneys claim that Ms. Farrar relentlessly abused him and ,, introduced him to Satanism.
Donald DeLong -- in the early 1980s and in 1991 -- had Jason living with him in Florida, according to court records and interviews. He will testify, Jason's attorneys said, about the custody battles with his ex-wife and the difficulties with child welfare agencies in Maryland, Florida and North Carolina.
"I feel bad for Cathy [Farrar] and Billy Wahl," Mr. DeLong said. "No matter what I felt for her, she didn't deserve to die the way she did. But I still don't know why Jason did what he did. He could have just walked away."
Jason DeLong did try to leave many times, after returning from his father's custody to Maryland about a year before the killings, according to testimony at his trial last week. He often ran away and spent nights with friends or on the streets.
In his taped confession to police, Jason DeLong blamed his father for sending him back to Maryland, where he was ultimately reunited with his mother.
"I don't know whether to blame Cathy or to blame the system," the elder Mr. DeLong said. "In my mind, Jason didn't have to live with that woman."
Defense attorneys expect to present testimony this week from others who knew Jason -- teachers from Florida and North Carolina; his stepmother, Kim DeLong; and a friend of the elder Mr. DeLong, Malcom Shaw, who lived with the family in North Carolina before it broke up.
"I don't have any idea why this happened," Mr. DeLong said. "It has come to a point where he's murdered those people, and I don't think he's going to get out anytime soon."
If Jason DeLong is convicted, prosecutors will seek a sentence of life without parole. If the jury finds him not criminally responsible, he could be committed to a state mental hospital for the rest of his life.