1. Archive

Jury finds Dahmer sane; he'll get 15 life terms for killings

Published Oct. 10, 2005

A jury on Saturday found that confessed serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was sane at the time of each of the 15 slayings with which he was charged.

The verdicts, returned in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, mean that Dahmer will be sentenced to a mandatory life term in prison for each of the killings. Wisconsin has no death penalty.

A judge will determine when, or if, Dahmer will be eligible for parole. A hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Dahmer, who confessed to the 15 killings in his indictment and to two others as well, had pleaded guilty but insane. Had the jury found him insane, he would have been sentenced to a mental institution from which he could have petitioned for release every six months.

As Judge Laurence Gram announced the jurors' 10-2 decisions, a shudder of emotion rolled through one victim's family after another in the gallery. Dahmer sat stone-faced.

"God bless you. I love you, my brother," one relative said to District Attorney E. Michael McCann as he walked of the courtroom. Other relatives hugged McCann and thanked him.

Defense attorney Gerald Boyle said he had warned Dahmer to expect the worst. He said Dahmer had thanked him for trying.

"I'm pretty sure that 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.

"Justice wasdone," said the Rev. Gene Champion, who counseled victims' relatives. "The healing can now come forth. That is a blessing for the families, a blessing for the city."

The jury deliberated for nearly 10 hours. The trial required only that 10 of the jurors agree.

The law also put the burden of proof on the defense to prove that Dahmer _ who admitted boiling skulls, eating body parts and having sex with corpses _ was insane.

To be proven insane in Wisconsin, defendants must prove that they suffered from a mental disease and that the disease kept them from knowing right from wrong or made them unable to stop themselves from committing the crimes.

Juror Karl Stahle said of Dahmer: "His whole conduct showed he was a con artist . . . and he is above average in intelligence, and that's all we went by."

Dahmer, 31, has admitted killing 17 people over 13 years. He began in June 1978, when he strangled a teen-age hitchhiker with a barbell; he was stopped on July 22, 1991, when a handcuffed man escaped from Dahmer's Milwaukee apartment and led police there.

Dahmer still faces murder charges in Ohio, where his first killing took place. Authorities said there was insufficient evidence to charge him with the second, which occurred in Milwaukee in 1987.