CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 24 (UPI) -- A jury Wednesday convicted a software engineer on all counts of first-degree murder for gunning down seven co-workers in an apparent tiff over his company's agreeing to seize part of his pay to satisfy an IRS debt.
In returning the verdict after three days of deliberations, the jury rejected insanity claims by Michael McDermott, who testified he believed he was actually preventing the Holocaust by killing Adolf Hitler and six Nazi generals while on a time-traveling mission to 1940 Berlin.
"Guilty of first-degree murder, deliberate premeditation, extreme atrocity, or cruelty," the jury forewoman said as each count of the seven indictments was read.
Many relatives of the victims in the Cambridge, Mass., courtroom gasped in apparent relief when the verdicts were read. Some sobbed.
The bushy-haired, bearded burley former Navy submariner stood without expression during the readings of the verdicts.
Afterward, he sat down and resumed reading his Bible at the defense table, as he did throughout the trial, ignoring victims' relatives as they read impact statements.
"We take comfort in knowing McDermott will soon be forgotten," said the brother of victim Cheryl Troy. She, however, "will always remain in our hearts." The brother said McDermott avoided responsibility throughout his life, and "even now he hides his face in a book."
After McDermott was sentenced to the mandated seven life terms in prison without the possibility of parole, the relatives of the victims broke out in a rousing cheer and applause as he was led out of the courtroom in shackles.
McDermott never denied he shot and killed his fellow employees at Edgewater Technologies Inc. in Wakefield, Mass., on Dec. 26, 2000, but claimed he was not criminally responsible because of a variety of mental illnesses.
The defense had claimed McDermott, 43, was schizophrenic and delusional at the time of the killings. Expert testimony during the trial showed McDermott suffered from depression and personality disorders for most of his life, but differed as to whether he was insane.
Prosecutors said he was faking insanity, and called him a cold-blooded killer who concocted a tale of traveling back through a "portal" to 1940 Berlin to appear insane and avoid criminal responsibility for the slayings.
Because McDermott couldn't take his anger out on the IRS, he took it out on company workers with an AK-47 assault rifle and a shotgun, Assistant District Attorney Thomas O'Reilly said. Most of those killed had been involved in the dispute to collect $5,600 the IRS claimed McDermott owed in back taxes.
"This man was insane at the time of the killings," defense attorney Kevin Reddington told the jury in closing arguments Monday.
"There's no doubt that Michael McDermott knew exactly what he was doing that day, and knew what he was doing was wrong," said O'Reilly. "He was a cold-blooded murderer."
The case was given to the jury Monday afternoon after closing arguments in Middlesex Superior Court. The jurors were sequestered during deliberations.
McDermott was "coping with his life" until the IRS sought to seize his pay, O'Reilly said.
The prosecutor said McDermott felt the seizure was unjust, and as the defendant had testified himself, "drew a line in the sand and took a course of action" to prevent any money from coming out of his paycheck and going to the IRS.
O'Reilly described in detail the multiple wounds to each victim and how McDermott methodically shot and killed those in the company who had been involved in the pay dispute.
The victims were Cheryl Troy, 50, Janice Hagerty, 46, Louis Javelle, 58, Craig Wood, 29, Jennifer Capobianco, 29, Paul Marceau, 36, and Rose Manfredi, 48.
During the trial, defense psychiatrists testified they believed McDermott was not faking mental illness, but has schizophrenia and was delusional at the time of the killings.
Prosecution psychiatrists, however, testified that McDermott's story of killing Nazi on a time-traveling mission inspired by St. Michael the Archangel was simply too bizarre to be believed.
When McDermott took the stand, he claimed that after he shot and killed Hitler and the other Nazis, he had died in a Berlin police station and was now in purgatory waiting to go to heaven.