Man convicted of decapitating girlfriend, setting her body on fire appeals to high court

Posted Dec. 27, 2011, at 11:34 a.m.
Last modified Dec. 27, 2011, at 5:11 p.m.
Chad Gurney walks into court in Portland in January 2011 for his trial on charges of strangling his girlfriend, Zoe Sarnacki, 18, then cutting off her head and setting her body on fire.
Joel Page | AP
Chad Gurney walks into court in Portland in January 2011 for his trial on charges of strangling his girlfriend, Zoe Sarnacki, 18, then cutting off her head and setting her body on fire.
Zoe Sarnacki is photographed walking during a snow storm in Portland in January 2009.
Gordon Chibroski, Press Herald | AP
Zoe Sarnacki is photographed walking during a snow storm in Portland in January 2009.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s highest court is scheduled next month to hear the appeal of a Portland man convicted of killing his girlfriend, cutting the head off the corpse and setting fire to the body.

The Portland Press Herald reports that Chad Gurney goes before the Supreme Judicial Court on Jan. 10.

His lawyer intends to argue that Gurney was delusional and did not understand that his actions were wrong when he killed Zoe Sarnacki in May 2009. His attorney says a psychotic episode stemming from a personality disorder, stress and withdrawal from an opiate painkiller is the likely explanation for the killing.

Prosecutors argue that the 30-year-old Gurney showed that he could act with rationality the day of the killing.

Gurney was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

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