WAUKEGAN, Ill. -- A 17-year-old girl who went into a jealous rage when her girlfriend ended their lesbian relationship was convicted Saturday of the sniper slaying of the girl's new boyfriend.
A Lake County jury deliberated nine hours before finding Kimberly Branham guilty of murdering Kurt Barlow, 19, of Wildwood, with a high-powered rifle. Miss Branham's bond was revoked and sentencing was set for May 7, three days after her 18th birthday, said Lake County prosecutor Matt Chancey.
Prosecutors in the four-day trial had said the Jan. 2 shooting was motivated by Miss Branham's jealous rage over the interest of her friend Elizabeth Lou, 18, in Barlow.
Miss Branham, of Long Grove, tearfully told jurors Thursday that she was miserably depressed when rejected by the girl who had been her lesbian lover and that the killing of Barlow was an accident.
'For the first time in my life, I broke down and cried in my mother's arms,' Miss Branham testified. 'Anything I ever had, I got from Betsy Lou.'
After the conviction was announced, Chancey said: 'There's not a lot to be happy about. It was a tragic verdict all the way around.'
Miss Branham, portrayed by her attorneys as a confused and suicidal girl, claimed the shooting was an accident. But prosecutors questioned Miss Branham's story that the telescopic-sight equipped deer rifle went off accidentally when she picked up the weapon.
Miss Branham told Lake County jurors that on Jan. 2, two days after the breakup, she took her father's high-powered rifle and went to the Lou home in suburban Lincolnshire, where Miss Lou, Barlow and another couple were watching the Rose Bowl.
The girl described a desperate attempt to gain Miss Lou's attention by lighting a book of matches and placing them in a windowsill of the home.
When Barlow stepped into the large picture window to extinguish the matches, he was shot in the chest, dying almost instantly.
Miss Branham, who was standing 167 feet away from Barlow at the time of the shooting, said she did not intend to shoot him. She said 'the gun just went off' as she grabbed it. Chancey responded by saying: 'You could grab the gun a million times, and it would not go off.'
Miss Branham told jurors Betsy Lou took the place of her older sister, Lisa, when Lisa left home. She said she had tried twice to take her own life, once by overdosing on pills, the second time with her father's hunting knife.
Lake County psychiatrist Richard Marone testified that Miss Branham is 'a severely disturbed individual with suicidal tendencies and a potential for destructiveness.'