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Man Guilty of 1st-Degree Murder in Girlfriend's Death in Bensalem

June 30, 2016


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Alan J. Garabedian, 215.348.6296, ajgarabedian@buckscounty.org

A Bucks County judge this morning found Andrew Messner guilty of first-degree murder in the September 2015 stabbing death of his girlfriend, 25-year-old Dilara Ozen, in Bensalem.

Judge Rea B. Boylan’s decision came after three days of testimony in a degree of guilt hearing for Messner, 30. She immediately sentenced him to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Messner had pleaded guilty May 11 to a general charge of criminal homicide, leaving it to Boylan to determine what degree of homicide he had committed.

Ozen was found lifeless in a bathtub on Sept. 28 by her mother, Rhoda Ozen, who had come to check on her at the Berkley Trace Apartments, where Dilara Ozen had been living. She had been stabbed several times, including a fatal slash wound to the neck that severed her carotid artery.

After discovering her daughter’s body, Rhoda Ozen testified, she found Messner asleep in the bedroom. “You murdered my daughter! You murdered my daughter!” she remembered screaming before calling police.

Messner later told police that he was an alcoholic and a drug abuser who “blacked out” when he drank too much. He claimed that he remembered nothing about the murder, although he never denied being the killer.

Defense attorney Wm. Craig Penglase argued that Messner’s likely state of intoxication, coupled with his history of mental illness, amounted to a “diminished capacity” that made it impossible for him to form the requisite level of intent to commit first-degree murder.

Messner “was incapable of forming a specific intent to kill,” Penglase argued.

John Markey, a psychiatrist retained by the defense,  testified that Messner was “psychotic at the time and in a blackout.”

Deputy District Attorney Alan J. Garabedian countered that the physical evidence in the case pointed to a calculated, intentional killing. The evidence suggested that Messner and Ozen had an altercation that began in the living room of the apartment, which was in disarray.

A trail of blood led from the living room through the kitchen and a hallway to the bathroom. Messner dragged Ozen into the tub and slashed her neck there, Garabedian said, because he knew that the wound would produce massive bleeding. Forensic testing showed that large amounts of blood had sprayed the bathroom floor and walls, which Messner cleaned up afterward.

“He deliberately attacked her there,” Garabedian argued. “It shows what’s going on in his mind. There is no diminished capacity.”

The murder weapon, a kitchen knife, was found concealed between a wall and a washing machine in the bathroom.

“This was a knock-down, drag-out fight to the death,” Garabedian said. “Ms. Ozen lost.”

After cleaning up most of the blood, Messner bagged his own bloodied clothing and a throw rug from the bathroom floor, Garabedian said. He turned up the air conditioning to preserve the body, drove to a drug store to buy a bottle of sleeping pills, returned to the apartment and fell asleep before Ozen’s mother arrived.

Internet searches on Messner’s phone after Ozen’s death showed intermittent searches for pornography and an inquiry about how to commit suicide with sleeping pills.

Garabedian also pointed to a history of domestic violence committed by Messner against Ozen. He pleaded guilty to assaulting her four months before the murder in a Lower Makefield apartment parking lot.

Text messages between Ozen and Messner showed that they had argued extensively about his viewing pornography online and about his drinking. When Ozen’s body was found, there was bruising around one of her eyes, indicating that Messner had struck her sometime shortly before the fatal assault.

“This murder didn’t happen in a vacuum,” Garabedian argued. “There was a prior history of violence perpetrated by this defendant against this victim.”

The Commonwealth dropped its intention to seek the death penalty at the time of Messner’s plea. Messner also pleaded guilty to possession of an instrument of crime, and to simple assault in the Lower Makefield incident.

In addition to the life sentence, Boylan imposed concurrent prison sentences of two and one-half to five years for possession of an instrument of crime, and one to 24 months for simple assault. She also ordered Messner to pay $16,500 in restitution to Ozen’s family.

The case was investigated by Bensalem Township Police Detectives Greg Jackson, Lawrence Leith and Glenn Vandegrift, and by Bucks County Detective Mark Zielinski.

Approved for release by Michele Kelly Walsh, Deputy District Attorney.

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