A man who pleaded guilty to fatally beating and choking his mother and putting her in a cardboard box in 2017 was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison.
John McArthur, 43, pleaded guilty last year to second degree murder and tampering with evidence in the death of 66-year-old Carolyn McArthur.
John McArthur’s journey to prison involved a stay of nearly five years in the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas, his attorney, Anne Keener, said Monday in a phone interview.
McArthur was diagnosed with schizophrenia with delusions — a hard-to-treat major mental illness, she said.
“This case is a tragedy all the way around,” Keener said. “He lost his only family — he lost his mother — and unfortunately for him, he remembers. He has to live with that memory of what he did to his own mother for the rest of his life.”
In November, 2nd Judicial District Judge Bruce Fox found McArthur competent to continue the criminal proceeding.
“After he was deemed competent, he wanted to take responsibility for the case and pled guilty to second degree murder and tampering with evidence,” Keener said.
In May 2017, police were called to a home in the 1700 block of Candelaria NW to transport McArthur to a mental hospital for evaluation, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court.
The following day, McArthur told an Albuquerque homicide detective that the responding officers had interrupted him while he was attempting to conceal his mother’s body.
McArthur told officers that he had killed his mother, then stuffed her body into a cardboard box, the criminal complaint said. Officers then returned to the home and found the woman’s body.
McArthur told police that he poured a powder called “Dragon’s Breath” in his mother’s drink and she drank it, the criminal complaint said.
The woman did not get sick from the drink, but later in the day, she told him to leave and took his house keys, he told police.
McArthur then lost his temper and choked and beat his mother until she died, the complaint said.
He put her body in a box and planned to take it to an unknown location when officers arrived to take him for a mental evaluation, it said.