Just moments after watching his video confession, jurors in a Vista courtroom listened to a military wife defend her husband, a U.S. Marine veteran suspected of stabbing and murdering a construction worker.
Mikhail Schmidt, 33, is accused of stabbing to death construction worker Jacob Bravo, 27, at an Oceanside construction job site in March 2017.
Police were led to Mikhail Schmidt after he told his supervisor about the killing at the triathlon training and gear shop, where Schmidt worked at the time, according to prosecutors.
That conversation is one Mikhail Schmidt told police he regrets.
“That was my biggest downfall,” he told detectives. “I needed recognition.”
In a video showing Mikhail Schmidt alone in an interrogation room, he initially appeared restless, looking in the camera and bursting into laughter. During questioning he cracked jokes and denied any involvement in the murder.
Left alone during a break in questioning, Mikhail Schmidt’s entire demeanor shifted. He slumped over.
As the video showed, he whispered, “I’m sorry,” before saying, “I want it on the record -- I love my wife, I love my dogs, I’m ready to talk. Let’s do this,” the video showed.
“I don’t know where it came from. I honestly don’t know what came over me. I left my house with the intention to do harm," he added.
The prosecution drew attention to Mikhail Schmidt’s lack of remorse for the victim during the video. In it, Schmidt told detectives he chose his victim at random.
“There was no rhyme or reason behind why I chose him,” said Mikhail Schmidt in the video. “Lately I’ve craved the taste of blood. I’ve needed it."
Mikhail Schmidt recalled getting in his car and driving down the coast looking for a victim - something he said he had done many nights before, but he never followed through until he saw Bravo.
He spotted Bravo leaving a liquor store and followed him. He crept inside Bravo’s trailer and stabbed him to death the way Marines were trained to kill, he said.
“I played it out in my head so many times how to do it,” Mikhail Schmidt said.
The victim’s body was discovered by his coworker in his trailer the morning Mikhail Schmidt was arrested and questioned by police.
After playing the video confession, the prosecution rested, turning the stand over to the defense who called their first witness forward, the defendant's wife, Melissa Schmidt.
Melissa Schmidt told jurors she still loved and supported her husband of 10 years.
The night of the killing she claimed he told her he could feel a bout of PTSD symptoms brewing. The defense argued Mikhail Schmidt also struggled with depression, alcohol abuse and psychosis.
The night Mikhail Schmidt left his home before allegedly killing Bravo, he was “more on edge” his wife said.
“Not the same. It was a different Mikhail,” she added.
Prosecutors previously said Mikhail Schmidt "missed the thrill" of killing and went out that night looking for a life to take.
If convicted, Mikhail Schmidt could face 25 years to life in prison.
As for his military history, Mikhail Schmidt served eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed to Iraq six times. He retired in August 2013 as a Staff Sergeant, E-6, according to a USMC spokesperson. His last assignment was as a Marine Combat Instructor with the Infantry Training Battalion-West at Camp Pendleton.