BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) – A man who went on a murderous rampage after breaking up with his girlfriend was convicted Thursday of killing two people and injuring two others by a jury that rejected his insanity defense.

After 4 hours of deliberations, jurors returned guilty verdicts against Christopher Williams, 29, who prosecutors said set out to kill his ex-girlfriend and her mother after being turned away from their home when he came to collect his belongings after the breakup.

Williams was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for the killings of the mother and a teacher at a school where his ex-girlfriend worked. He also was convicted one count of attempted first-degree murder and one count of attempted second-degree murder in the shootings of another teacher at the school, and a friend who had loaned him the gun.

Williams’ lawyers said he was in a dissociative state and had a mental defect that made him incapable of forming the intent to kill.

But jurors got a different view from prosecutor Mary Morrissey, who told them in closing arguments that Williams knew exactly what he was doing when he borrowed a .45 caliber pistol.

“He had a mission in mind, he had a plan, he followed it through,” Morrissey said.

The Aug. 24, 2006, shootings began at the home of Andrea Lambesis and her mother, Linda. They continued at Essex Elementary School – school wasn’t in session yet, but teachers were there – and ended outside the condominium of Chad Johansen, Williams’ friend.

Linda Lambesis, 57, of Essex, was shot after Williams chased her through her home, shooting.

Mary Alicia Shanks, 56, of Essex, a schoolteacher at Essex Elementary and close friend of Andrea Lambesis,was shot to death in her classroom.

Williams shot and wounded another teacher, Mary Snedeker, 54, of Essex Junction. He had gone outside after killing Shanks and fired through a window at Snedeker, apparently thinking she was Lambesis, said.

Prosecutors said Williams shot Johansen, 28, of Essex, in the head outside his condominium after returning there to get more ammunition. Johansen was shot when he answered a ringing cell phone because Williams thought it was the police calling and that Johansen was going to turn him in.

Williams’ purposeful actions – not shooting other people he encountered in the school, going to reload the gun so he could commit suicide – demonstrate that he knew what he was doing, she said.

When the verdicts were announced after 8 p.m. in the packed courtroom, Lambesis cried and hugged her sister before hugging Morrissey. She declined comment.

“Ever since I started, it’s been like riding a wave and you don’t get off the surfboard until it hits the shore,” said Snedeker, outside court after the verdicts were returned. “I stayed focused and believed this jury would do the right thing, based on the evidence.”

Her feeling when she heard the verdicts: “Relief. And justification. Especially when I heard mine.”

Shot in the hip, she recovered and took a year off from teaching before returning to Essex Elementary this past year.

“It still hurts to walk,” she said.

Shanks’ husband, Steve Shanks, declined comment on the verdicts, as did defense attorney Margaret Jansch.

“Justice was done,” said Joe Guttilla, 72, a next-door neighbor of Lambesis who testified.

AP-ES-07-17-08 2140EDT


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