Colin Ferguson Convicted of Murdering Six in Train Massacre
MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) _ In a courtroom packed with survivors of his attack and families of his victims, the man accused of gunning down six people on a commuter train listened impassively as the jury returned the verdict even he expected:
Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
A smattering of applause greeted the first guilty verdict Friday night, and the courtroom erupted in cheers when a handcuffed Colin Ferguson was led out by court officers. Jury foreman Delton Dove sat in the jury box, crying and clasping his arms.
Ferguson, who faces life in prison, will be sentenced March 20.
``I’m sure he’s suffering now and that makes me feel good,″ said Robert Giugliano, a passenger who was shot point-blank in the chest but recovered to testify against Ferguson.
``I never want to hear his name again,″ said Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed and son Kevin crippled in the massacre. ``He’s not worth my thoughts. He’s not worth my time.″
Ferguson, armed with a 9mm semiautomatic pistol, walked down the aisle of a crowded Long Island Rail Road train on Dec. 7, 1993, firing randomly at commuters. He killed six and wounded 19; the killing spree ended only when Ferguson, attempting to reload, was tackled by passengers.
His legal adviser, Alton Rose, said Ferguson was ``unfazed″ by the verdict and surprised only by how long it took the jury to deliberate _ about 10 hours.
The conviction ended an often surreal three-week trial in which Ferguson refused his lawyers’ advice to plead insanity and instead conducted his own bizarre defense.
He claimed a white man stole his automatic weapon and opened fire while he slept; tried to subpoena President Clinton and ex-Gov. Mario Cuomo; and announced there was a murder conspiracy against him that was linked to the prison slaying of Jeffrey Dahmer.
His defense consisted of a single witness _ a Nassau County homicide detective already called by the prosecution. In his closing argument, Ferguson accused the surviving victims of conspiring with police to implicate him.
All but two of the 19 surviving victims testified against Ferguson. The first person shot on the train, Maryanne Phillips, coolly told him during the trial, ``I saw you shoot me″ _ a scene that was repeated over and over in the Long Island courtroom.
The parade of victims included Kevin McCarthy, whose father died in his lap on the train; Lisa Combatti, who was seven months pregnant when shot; and war veteran Thomas McDermott, who said the carnage was worse than anything he’d seen in Vietnam.
Ferguson was convicted on six murder charges, 19 attempted murder charges, two counts of weapons possession and a single count of reckless endangerment.
He was acquitted of 25 counts of civil rights violations, alleging he targeted the shooting victims because of their race.
``He did shoot white people, black people, Japanese people _ he shot everyone. It wasn’t racially motivated,″ said juror Fred Hecker. ``He was against society; he hated everyone.″
During the jury’s closed-door discussions, Ferguson’s pistol was placed at the center of the table.
After the verdict, juror Thomas Talbot said: ``I sure wish there was a death penalty.″