NEW YORK, JUNE 11 -- Bernhard H. Goetz shot four black youths in 1984 not in self-defense but in "anger alone, blind self-righteous volcanic fury," prosecutor Gregory Waples said today, summing up the prosecution's side of the seven-week trial.
"He was secretly hoping one of these rambunctious kids would make his day, do something stupid to provide him with some excuse to draw his gun and take out a lifetime of revenge," Waples told the jury.
Three years before the shootings, Goetz had been injured in a mugging and his assailants went unpunished. Since then, Waples argued, the engineer, now 39, "evolved from a helpless victim into something that resembled an avenging angel."
But Waples cautioned the eight-man, four-woman jury that "a lot more was percolating through the defendant's mind than the bumps and bruises" he suffered in 1981, and he noted that Goetz was collecting guns as early as 1970.
"He is anything but a typical New Yorker," Waples said in a four-hour closing argument. "Inside this man lurks a dark spirit, a person who is deeply suspicious, intellectually rigid, seething with self-righteous anger and obsessed with crime and his own solutions." Goetz, he said, was an "emotional powderkeg."
In focusing on Goetz's character and citing statements from Goetz's confession -- such as his declared intention to gouge out the eyes of one youth -- Waples sought to deflect sympathy from the gunman initially hailed as a hero by some.
Even today, two Jersey City men were doing brisk business selling T-shirts inscribed "Thugbuster -- He who takes, Goetz it."
Goetz is charged with 13 counts of attempted murder, reckless endangerment, assault and illegal possession of firearms. He confessed to shooting the four teen-agers in a subway car, saying that one of them asked him for $5 and he feared that they would "play" with him and "beat him to a pulp."
Troy Canty, the youth who asked him for the money, testified that he was panhandling, not planning to rob or harm Goetz.
The case will go to the jury of two blacks and 10 whites after Supreme Court Judge Stephen Crane issues complex instructions Friday on the law regarding self-defense.
Wednesday, defense attorney Barry Slotnick argued that Goetz felt surrounded and trapped by the youths. Goetz "reacted to fear," he said. "His act was appropriate."
However, Waples argued that "self-defense should not be construed as a license to commit cold-blooded murder . . . . Thousands of New Yorkers have experiences with crime far more harrowing than that which the defendant suffered, and they have not run amok."
Three of the youths recovered from their wounds. The fourth, Darrell Cabey, is brain-damaged and paralyzed from the waist down. Waples argued that the "sadistic" shots that injured Cabey should be considered apart from the others.
Goetz confessed that he approached Cabey after shooting him once and said, "You seem to be all right. Here's another."