ABBEVILLE, S.C. - Steven Bixby considers himself a patriot and a prophet with no regrets about gunning down two law officers who came to his parents' home after the family became irate over a nearby road project.
In hundreds of pages of letters written after his 2003 arrest, the South Carolina man who faces the death penalty when his sentencing begins today reveals his personal demons and ironclad beliefs, signing each message "chaotic patriot Steve." In one, he questions his own sanity.
The 39-year-old New Hampshire transplant was convicted Sunday after a five-day trial in Abbeville, a small town near the Georgia line. During the case, the jury heard some of the letters Mr. Bixby wrote to a former girlfriend. The messages apparently were factors in the verdict: During deliberations that lasted less than 2 hours, jurors asked to rehear letters in which Mr. Bixby described how he took one wounded officer's gun, handcuffed the dying man, dragged him inside the house and read him Miranda rights.
"I started to cry, but I got refocused on the job," he wrote to former girlfriend Alane Taylor. "If we had wanted to, that whole day would have been an entire bloodbath."
County sheriff's Sgt. Danny Wilson was shot while standing on the front porch, his body then dragged inside, according to authorities. State Constable Donnie Ouzts arrived to check on Sgt. Wilson once radio contact with the officer was lost. He was shot as he stepped out of his patrol car and died on the way to the hospital.
Police surrounded the house for the rest of the day and the standoff ended after hundreds of rounds were fired. Mr. Bixby and his father, Arthur, who was injured, were charged with murder. Rita Bixby, Steven Bixby's 74-year-old mother, was charged as an accessory because authorities said she knew her family planned to harm police officers. She was not home when the shootings took place.
The 20-foot strip of land the family had contested has since been used to expand a highway that runs near the now-vacant home.
In his letters, the bespectacled, balding Mr. Bixby describes himself as a devoted son to his parents, whose trial dates have not been set.
"I put everyone else before my own safety," he wrote. "I'll protect the ones I love with my life."
Public defender Charles Grose said Mr. Bixby composed more than 1,500 pages worth of letters to Ms. Taylor in the first year after his arrest. In them, he is steadfast in his belief that the shootings were justified, calling them "right and correct in God's eyes."
"We the people are a majority," Mr. Bixby wrote. "The laws were made to protect us from the police."
On the stand for the defense Saturday, Mr. Bixby's mother agreed.
"He has the right to protect his property by any means necessary," she testified.
The letters include ramblings about the significance of some numbers, including mathematical equations involving his birth date, age and length of jail time. He says God "wants all the evil to be exposed" and mentions a premonition of the shootout.
"I saw this in a dream about a month before it happened," Mr. Bixby wrote.
But he also hints at doubts about himself.
"I don't feel like I'm crazy, but then who could ever say for sure?" he wrote.