MILWAUKEE — Jeffrey Dahmer was sane when he killed and dismembered 15 men and boys in a horrifying quest for sexual gratification, a jury ruled yesterday.
The decision means that Dahmer, who had pleaded guilty to the murders, will receive a mandatory life sentence for each count. A hearing is scheduled tomorrow.
“Dahmer knew at all times that what he was doing was wrong,” said District Attorney E. Michael McCann. “This is not the case of a psychotic man.”
Dahmer, as he has throughout the three-week sanity trial, sat stone-faced as Judge Laurence Gram calmly read through the jury’s verdict on each of 15 murder counts.
The grim roll call of Dahmer’s prey sent a shudder of emotion rolling through several victim’s families seated behind the man who claimed to have eaten parts of their loved ones.
Some shouted in pain. Others rocked with sobs.
“God bless you. I love you, my brother,” one relative called to McCann as he walked out of the courtroom. Others hugged and thanked the prosecutor.
“They gave a powerful, powerful argument,” said Teresa Smith sister of victim Edward Smith, “They brought back the faith I’d lost in the justice system.”
Her sister Carolyn said she felt some sympathy for Dahmer “because I am Catholic.”
“At times I have hatred like anyone would, but you have got to love all,” she said.
McCann said jurors realized Dahmer, 31, could have controlled himself, and 10 of the 12 jurors — the minimum required by law — agreed.
“His whole conduct showed he was a con artist… above-average in intelligence, and that’s all we went by,” said juror Karl Stahle.
Defense attorney Gerald Boyle said he warned Dahmer to expect the worst, and Dahmer had thanked him for trying.
“He wants to close the book on it and just live out the rest of his life as he knows it’s going to be,” Boyle said.
After the verdicts were read, Boyle held a 10-minute meeting with Dahmer and Dahmer’s parents.
Few crimes compare for sheer horror, and Dahmer’s sanity trial provided an indepth study of the mind of a killer who — sane or insane — had strayed over 13 years as far outside the bounds of civilized behavior as most people could imagine.
Even his own lawyer said he was not there to excuse Dahmer’s behavior, but to explain it.
He insisted that Dahmer’s craving for sex with dead males and his fear of loneliness drove him out of control — to kill again and again, unable to stop.
“This was not an evil man. This was a sick man whose sickness rose to the level of mental illness,” Boyle said, arguing Dahmer suffered from necrophilia, a sexual attraction to corpses.
Dahmer, a former chocolate-factory worker, probably will be imprisoned in a high-observation, one-man cell at the Columbia Correctional Institution