ROCKLAND, MAINE, AUG. 28 -- Newspaper reporter Robert Hohler was convicted of criminal contempt today, seven months after refusing to testify for the prosecution in a murder case that ended in a conviction.

The Superior Court jury deliberated for four hours. No sentencing date was set.

Hohler, who worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor when he was charged and now works for the Boston Globe, declined to comment on the verdict. His lawyer, Michael Messerschmidt, said he did not know if he would appeal.

Hohler was the Monitor's lead reporter in coverage of New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe when she was selected as an astronaut and wrote a book about her after she was killed in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.

In testimony today, Hohler said he was exercising a limited privilege not to participate in the prosecution last January of Richard Steeves, who was convicted in the shooting death of a gift-store owner.

Hohler, 35, had interviewed Steeves before his trial last January and said he would have been willing to attest under oath to the truth of statements contained in the story he wrote.

Deputy Attorney General James Kilbreth asserted that Hohler's refusal to testify was intentional.

In his story, Hohler quoted Steeves, a former mental patient, as saying he was "just not sure" whether he or someone else killed the store owner.

Maine prosecutors said the statements were essential to the state's case and said they could not introduce the article as evidence unless Hohler made himself available for cross-examination.