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Almost six years after Alexis Esaw Khabeer was found beaten to death in her former home, the schizophrenic homeless man whom she'd briefly befriended -- who also admitted to killing her -- has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Mark Pierre Bonner, 35, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last Thursday in exchange for the prison sentence, court records show. The 35-year-old native of New Orleans had been scheduled to stand trial next week.

Bonner was arrested in Khabeer's July 2012 slaying two days after the 25-year-old Little Rock woman was found dead in the dilapidated Hutsell Road house. The property, which lacked electricity, had once been owned by her grandmother.

Khabeer, who had a 4-year-old son and was 13 weeks pregnant, had lived off and on at the home just off Geyer Springs Road since she was 7.

Khabeer was married, but her struggles with mental illness had isolated her from her family. She'd moved out of the family home two months before she was killed.

Her remains were found by a friend who was concerned because Khabeer had stopped returning text messages a couple of days earlier.

Police began looking for a man who'd been seen living at the house and arrested Bonner after finding him wearing blood-stained clothing behind a Taco Bell on Geyer Springs Road.

He first denied knowing anything about Khabeer's death. But he later told police how he choked and beat Khabeer the day she died after she'd ordered him out of the house during an argument, court records show.

Bonner said he'd been in Little Rock about a month and had known Khabeer about a week when she'd let him move into the 1,866-square-foot home. He later recanted that story.

Most of the time since Bonner's arrest was devoted to stabilizing his mental health so doctors could assess whether he was sane when Khabeer was killed and whether he could assist his lawyers and participate in his own defense.

State doctors deemed him fit for the first time in May 2013, then again in January 2016. He has had a difficult time staying on a regular medication schedule in jail, regularly refusing to take his medicine.

He had undergone six mental evaluations by the time he was pronounced fit for trial last June by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Leon Johnson.

The judge ruled after hearing testimony by defense and prosecution psychologists who had examined him separately. To make sure Bonner stayed on his medication, the judge ordered him to be housed in the Arkansas State Hospital instead of returning to the Pulaski County jail.

A few months later, hospital doctors began to complain that Bonner was not mentally ill but was still dangerous, with an impulse toward violence coupled with a lack of remorse when he believed he had been wronged.

His court file describes how he had attacked two fellow patients over two days sometime between mid-December and February.

One victim was an intellectually disabled man whom Bonner ambushed while the man was leaving a restroom. Bonner pushed the man to the floor and pummeled him, court filings show.

The second victim was a man who had gone to the rescue and pulled Bonner away. The next morning, Bonner pulled a metal soap dispenser off a wall and hit that man on the back of his head, inflicting an inch-long gash. Bonner threatened the same man sometime later, again using a metal soap dispenser he pulled from a wall.

A search of his room led to the discovery of knives Bonner had made.

Dr. Samuel House, chief of the hospital's forensic section, reported that Bonner had displayed no psychotic symptoms and appeared to be faking mental illness.

"He has no symptoms of psychosis. Mr. Bonner has provided ample evidence of feigning psychopathology," House wrote.

"He is able to have rational discussions with me about his needs. Mr. Bonner explained to both myself and his social worker that he only acts out while incarcerated. It is my opinion that Mr. Bonner's continued presence [at the hospital] places both patients and staff at risk, as he is a danger to others."

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Metro on 04/19/2018

Print Headline: 6 years after LR woman's death, killer handed 20-year sentence

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