Man Convicted Of Murdering 7 Co-Workers
Thursday, April 25, 2002; Page A02
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 24 -- A man who gunned down seven co-workers at a software company in what he called a divine mission to prevent the Holocaust was convicted of murder today by a jury that rejected his insanity defense.
Michael McDermott, 43, stood impassively as the verdict was delivered in a courtroom packed with tearful relatives of the victims.
The convictions on seven counts of first-degree murder meant an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole. Massachusetts does not have a death penalty.
Prosecutors said McDermott went on his rampage because he was angry about the company's plan to comply with an IRS order to withhold a large portion of his salary to pay back taxes. They said he concocted the Holocaust story after boning up on how to fake mental illness.
During the trial, McDermott sat at the defense table and read a Bible without looking up as relatives of the dead took the stand and recalled their loved ones. Some stole glances across the courtroom at McDermott, but he didn't meet their eyes.
"His life is insignificant. He will die in a silent hell he has created for himself," said Scott Troy, whose sister, Cheryl Troy, was killed. "He has accomplished nothing."
The defense claimed the software engineer was insane, suffering from depression and schizophrenia, and didn't know what he was doing at Edgewater Technology Inc. in suburban Wakefield on Dec. 26, 2000.
The trial featured chilling testimony from workers who hid under their desks or ran out of the building after McDermott began shooting. Some said they heard co-workers begging for their lives before McDermott blasted them with an AK-47 rifle and a pump-action shotgun.
The jury deliberated for nearly 16 hours over three days.
McDermott spent two days on the witness stand testifying in his own defense. He matter-of-factly told the jury he had been given a mission by St. Michael the Archangel, who told him he could earn a soul and prevent the Holocaust if he killed Adolf Hitler and six German generals.
McDermott's defense presented medical experts who said he had a long history of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.
© 2002 The Washington Post Company