JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In emotional and often disturbing testimony, Alan Wade's mother described the "tough love" she dispensed to her increasingly difficult youngest son, including kicking him out of the house and telling him just how hard he was to parent.
"I told him that the cancer was his fault because he was causing me so much stress all the time," Frieda Ganey told jurors. It's a conversation Ganey said she forgot until a recent conversation with her son, one she regrets.
Wade was convicted in the 2007 murder of a Jacksonville couple -- a gruesome story of two 61-year-olds buried alive.
He is being resentenced by a jury that will decide if he gets the death penalty or life in prison. His original death sentence was overturned because the verdict was not unanimous. Ganey gave her testimony of Wade's childhood, which has been the subject of the past two days of the trial.
Witnesses have been called to testify about the hardship and trauma of Wade's childhood and the effects these events had on his mental state.
Ganey spoke of Wade as a good kid who had a hard childhood, who she loved very much -- though a witness earlier in the trial said Wade believed she "did not love him."
She said Wade was "as sweet as can be," as a child, a genius who could do math and long division in his head.
She said he was afraid of the dark: She once called the prison where Wade was held and asked if there were lights in the hallway, she said.
He stopped trying in school in the sixth grade, after his parents divorced and he became "angry" at everyone, she said, but he was always a good student and very smart.
A key part of the story witnesses have painted of Wade's childhood is his parents separation. Ganey said Wade was "crushed," when his father failed to pick him up to spend the summer together when he was 11 -- the summer before he failed sixth grade.
"He never got over me leaving his dad, he never got over his dad leaving him," Ganey said.
Ganey's battle with cancer was a highlight of testimony from an expert psychologist Tuesday, who said that she had such intense brain fog from cancer treatment that she was not able to be functional as a mother.
When asked if Ganey "had a conversation about her cancer" with Wade, she began to cry.
In a conversation Ganey says she forgot until Wade recently reminded her, she admitted she told him he had "caused her cancer" by causing him so much stress.
She testified that she moved away, not bringing Wade with her, because friends told her she could not go on with the amount of stress her son was causing, but called it "the worst decision I ever made in my life."
Wade will take the stand Wednesday. He told the judge he is willing to waive his fifth amendment rights, saying he "wants to apologize to the family."