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Man Accused of Posting Video of Woman's Murder to Facebook Claims His Confession Was Generated by AI

Mark Merchikoff is accused of fatally stabbing Claribel Estrella in 2023, per police

<p>San Mateo County Sheriff

San Mateo County Sheriff's Office

Mark Stephen Mechikoff
  • Mark Merchikoff allegedly stabbed Claribel Estrella and posted a Facebook video that showed her dying, authorities say

  • Merchikoff has been charged with murder

  • He was arrested after someone saw the video on Facebook and alerted authorities

A California man who's accused of killing a woman in 2023 and posted a Facebook video of the victim dying claimed in court last week that his alleged subsequent confession was actually generated by artificial intelligence, authorities say.

Mark Merchikoff was arrested in July 2023 in San Mateo, Calif., on accusations that he fatally stabbed Claribel Estrella and posted the grisly video on Facebook, the San Mateo Police Department said at the time.

Merchikoff was charged with murder. He pleaded not guilty during a court appearance in August, KRON 4 reported.

"Merchikoff mercilessly filmed the last moments of the victim’s life and posted the video to Facebook, then fled the area," San Mateo police said in their July 2023 statement.

On Friday, more than six months after his arrest, Merchikoff made the bizarre claim during a preliminary hearing that his alleged confession was a creation of artificial intelligence, authorities said, according to KRON 4.

“During the hearing, the defendant exclaimed to the court that he did kill the victim, but his confession was generated by AI (artificial intelligence),” prosecutors wrote, per the outlet.

It wasn't immediately clear where or when the confession took place.

Related: California Man Charged With Murdering Woman, Posting Video of Her Death on Facebook

In the July 2023 incident, police were alerted by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada about a report of someone who witnessed a "stabbing” on Facebook, authorities said at the time. The witness provided the name and phone number of the person who posted the video — later allegedly identified as Merchikoff.

Nevada officials tracked Merchikoff's location to San Mateo and alerted police there, who then arrested him, authorities said.

Merchikoff and Estrella knew each other, police said, though authorities did not disclose the nature of their relationship.

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Merchikoff “felt a certain pride” in carrying out the killing, District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe previously alleged, according to KRON 4. 

Wagstaffe said the social media posting could potentially be an aggravating circumstance in the murder charge, the San Mateo Daily Journal reported in August.

“It is particularly callous to have posted on Facebook a dying victim that he just stabbed. That is an aggravating factor in the prosecution of this case,” Wagstaffe said, per the outlet.

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