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Telling gets life in 'headless' case

EXETER, England -- A jury convicted socialite Michael Telling Friday of manslaughter instead of murder charges, finding he was temporarily insane when he killed his American wife and severed her head to keep as a remembrance.

Telling, a member of one of Britain's wealthiest families, was sentenced to life imprisonment.

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But the seven-man, five-woman jury reduced the crime from murder to manslaughter because of 'diminished responsibility,' a British legal term for mental impairment at the time of the offense.

Telling's lawyer told reporters Telling was happy with the verdict for the sake of his son by his first marriage.

'I am so pleased for my son's sake that I am not branded a murderer,' he said through solicitor Paul Maxlow-Tomlinson.

Maxlow-Tomlinson said diminished responsibility meant Telling's mind was 'substantially disordered at the time of the killing. It could also be considered the same thing as temporary insanity.'

Telling, 34, confessed he shot his wife Monika, 27, three times and hid her body for five months in an unfinished sauna at their home in Buckinghamshire west of London.

He eventually dumped the body in a wooded area near Exeter but severed the head with an ax and took it home with him because he 'wanted to take some part of her back with him,' defense psychiatrist Robert Bluglass said.

But at least two women witnesses said they had slept with Telling at his home during the period his wife's bodywas hidden in the house. They said he told them Mrs. Telling had gone home to Santa Rosa, Calif.

Other witnesses, including former lesbian lovers of Mrs. Telling and friends of the Tellings, testified on sensational details of the doomed 17-month marriage that was a round of travel, parties, and socialite high life.

Mrs. Telling, they said, flaunted her sexual affairs with men and women and publicly taunted Telling for his sexual inadequacy.

Witnesses said she was alcoholic and a drug addict and quoted her as saying she married Telling only for his money.

Telling said that even before their marriage he caught her making lesbian love with a neighbor's wife on his living room floor, that she was too drunk for love on their wedding night and denied him sex altogether for the last seven months of her life.

Once, after she returned from a trip to California, she casually told Telling she had taken up again with a Mexican boyfriend who had helped her previously when she'd needed an abortion, Bluglass said.

Telling, who has a history of emotional disturbance since childhood, is second cousin of multimillionaire businessman Lord Vestey and never had to work for a living. He lived lavishly on the income from a family trust.

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