Las Vegas defense attorney blames Zoloft for his client's killing of ex-girlfriend

Attorneys made closing arguments on Thursday in the trial against Brandon Hanson, accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend last year inside of her garage on Russell and Buffalo. (FOX5)

Attorneys made closing arguments on Thursday in the trial against Brandon Hanson, accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend last year inside of her garage on Russell and Buffalo.

Police said someone snuck up behind 21-year-old Makayla Rhiner and stabbed her to death.

"If you could fit all things that are good in someone, that would encompass Makayla," family friend Freddy Lopez said. "She was just like a little sister to me."

Investigators interviewed Brandon Hanson, who confessed to killing his ex-girlfriend. He later pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges.

"If God hasn't left him, I'm not going to leave him either," Hanson's aunt, Linda Brooks said. "That doesn't mean I condone anything. I just want him to know that I still love him ... Nobody wins here. Both families are grieving and my heart goes out to the other family."

Hanson's defense attorney blamed mental illness and side effects from the drug Zoloft. He compared his client to a "cracked egg" and "damaged goods." He also urged the jury to consider a voluntary manslaughter charge instead of first-degree murder.

Prosecutors argued that the killing was premeditated. They described Hanson as obsessive, manipulative and controlling. They said Hanson threatened to kill himself if Rhiner left him and then lied that he had cancer to get her to stay.

Lopez said he wasn't happy with the way Hanson presented himself in court.

"One second, he would look a little distraught and the next, you look over again and he's smiling or he's smirking at something," Lopez said. "Absolutely reprehensible, and it just shows his true character."

Jurors were scheduled to begin deliberations on Friday morning.

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