A jury Thursday convicted Darrell Cloud of firstdegree murder in the shooting death of a teacher who had molested him since high school.
Cloud, 25, admitted shooting longtime teacher Neal Summers as he arrived for work at Whitman Middle School on Jan. 31, 1994. Cloud had pleaded innocent by reason of insanity.
Defense attorney John Henry Browne contended Cloud had been driven to kill Summers by years of sexual abuse that began when he was 14.
Senior Deputy Prosecutors Lisa Marchese and Tim Bradshaw argued that Cloud was legally sane at the time of the slaying, urging jurors to convict him for taking the law into his own hands.
The King County Superior Court jury had deliberated for about two days.
Cloud, who did not testify, will be sentenced in about a month.
He faces between 20 and 26 years in prison, said spokesman Dan Donohoe of the King County prosecutor’s office. Prosecutors have made no decision concerning a sentencing recommendation, Donohoe said.
Cloud’s mother began to wail shortly after the decision was read and had to be led out of the courtroom. Cloud’s father lambasted the verdict as he left the courthouse.
“Neal Summers wins again. Neal Summers rapes kids, children. Neal Summers now is continuing to punish Darrell,” Bill Cloud said. “Twenty years, quote, by first-degree murder, 10 years he spent in purgatory, in hell right now and now we have 20 more years.
“It’s an absolutely asinine decision,” said the elder Cloud, who said the family plans to appeal.
It has been 15 years since a King County jury acquitted a homicide defendant on grounds of insanity, veteran prosecutors said. Such a verdict would require a finding that the accused suffered from a mental disease or defect and was unable to tell right from wrong or incapable of understanding his actions at the time of the crime.
In closing arguments, Browne accused Summers, a popular and highly respected teacher, of setting in motion the chain of events that ended with his death.
“Neal Summers was a teacher and this is what he taught,” Browne said.
“He taught fear. He taught anger. He taught anxiety. He taught depression. He taught lack of self-worth. He was really good at that.
“Neal Summers was evil - evil! How can you be a good teacher and rape students?” Browne asked.
Marchese did not dispute the abuse but implored jurors not to acquit Cloud out of sympathy or because they felt Summers deserved his fate.
“There are plenty of reasons to feel sympathy for him (Cloud). Nobody should have to suffer sex abuse … But leave those feelings of sympathy outside the jury room door,” she said.
“When one is wronged, when one is abused, we are required to invoke the law. We are not allowed to take it into our own hands,” she said.
Browne told jurors Cloud was in a delusional state and didn’t know right from wrong when he shot Summers with an assault rifle. Cloud believed he was acting under orders from “the secret police,” a delusion stemming from the years of abuse, Brown said.
Jurors heard contradictory testimony from four mental-health experts about Cloud’s mental state at the time of the shootings, but there was little disagreement that Summers had victimized him for years.
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