Colin Ferguson was convicted Friday of murdering six passengers on a commuter train, ending a trial in which he refused an insanity plea and then offered a bizarre defense as his own lawyer.
The jury deliberated for 10 hours before returning its verdict at about 9:20 p.m. in a courtroom packed with survivors of the attack and families of the slain victims.
In addition to the murder counts, Ferguson was convicted of 22 counts of attempted murder, weapons possession and reckless endangerment. However, he was acquitted of 25 counts of civil rights violations, charging he targeted victims because of their race.
Even Ferguson anticipated the guilty verdict; only the length of the deliberations surprised him, said his legal adviser, Alton Rose.
“Guilty,” said jury foreman Delton Dove when asked about the first murder count. He repeated it five times, once for each of the other victims shot to death aboard the 5:33 p.m. train on Dec. 7, 1993. Nineteen others were wounded.
A small smattering of applause greeted the first guilty verdict, and the courtroom erupted in cheers when a handcuffed Ferguson was led out by court officers.
“It’s been a long 14 months, but justice has been done,” said Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed and her son crippled in Ferguson’s rampage.
Ferguson stood mute and stared at jurors as the verdict was read. When the jury was polled again, he sat slumped in his chair at the defense table. Dove sat in the jury box, crying and shaking after the verdict.
Ferguson, who faces life in prison, asked the judge to set the verdict aside. Judge Donald Belfi told him he could address the issue at his March 20 sentencing.
Ferguson used his closing argument Thursday to accuse survivors of conspiring with police to implicate him. Victims and the families of the dead were so incensed they walked out of court.
The evidence against Ferguson appeared overwhelming. In addition to his handwritten notes expressing hatred of whites and Asians, all but two of the 19 survivors testified against him.
Twelve identified him as the gunman. And the commuters who said they subdued and disarmed Ferguson also took the witness stand.
Under cross-examination, the witnesses answered Ferguson’s questions by directly implicating him.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with story: The verdicts Guilty on six counts of murder. Guilty on 19 counts of attempted murder. Guilty on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. Guilty on one count of reckless endangerment. Innocent on 25 counts of aggravated harassment (civil rights violation).
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