March 19, 1996 · Cavalier Daily

Salvi Convicted of Abortion Clinic Murders

Following a rejection of his insanity defense, a jury convicts 24-year old John C. Salvi III of two counts of first degree murder, after he opened fire on women in a Massachusetts abortion clinic, killing two and wounding five. Relatives and friends of the shooting victims mourn their loved ones.


1996-03-19 - Cavalier Daily Salvi Convicted of Abortion Clinic Murders.pdf
Carolyn Thompson
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Salvi Convicted of Abortion Clinic Murders
The Associated Press
DEDHAM. Mass. — A jury rejected John C. Salvi III's insanity defense and convicted the 24 year old loner yesterday of murdering two women in a shooting rampage at two abortion clinics.
The jury convicted him on two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of assault with intent to murder.
"Justice was done," said Mark Nichols, whose sister wsa slain in one of the Dec. 30, 1994 attacks on two Boston-area clinics.
A first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Massachusetts doesn't have a death penalty. As the verdicts were read, Salvi stood quietly. sometimes staring vacantly and sometimes bowing his head. his dark necktie cocked to the right. He pursed his lips and looked down at the defense table after the verdict was read.
Four of the women on the jury, including the forewoman cried as the verdicts were read, as did friends and families of the victims, and Salvi's mother.
A bailiff steadied the jury forewoman, and Salvi's father came to his wife’s aid as she doubled over in her seat.
"Just leave me alone," Mrs. Salvi said as her husband rubbed her back.
The verdict was televised live nationally. Cameras had been excluded from the courtroom during testimony.
Yesterday afternoon, Superior Court Judge Barbara Dortch-Okara heard "victim impact statements," comments from loved ones of the dead and from the wounded, and then formally sentenced Salvi to life.
"The life I had is gone." said a tearful David Keane, who been engaged to marry Shannon Lowney, one of the receptionists who was killed. “The most caring, loving person I ever met is no longer with me."
Ruth Ann Nichols, the mother of slain receptionist Lee Ann Nichols, addressed Salvi in her statement. saying. "Without hesitation, I hope you have sheer misery every day of your life, as you have brought all the families. I request and hope that every Dec. 30 they put you in solitary confinement."
Salvi also got a chance to comment before sentencing. In a rambling statement. he asked the judge to let him conduct a televised interview once he is in prison.
"As you know I haven’t pled guilty though I am against abortion." Salvi said.
"My position is pro-welfare state, pro-Catholic labor union, and basically, life."
The judge said any decision on would be up to prison officials.
Outside court, the president of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts said she was relieved by the verdict.
"We're hopeful this kind of atrocious incident will never happen again anywhere in this country or the world," said Nicki Nichols Gamble.
"I think it will help to de-escalate the climate of fear and violence that has surrounded the services that we provide," Gamble said.
Salvi, who professed to believe in a conspiracy against Roman Catholics, admitted carrying out the attacks that killed two receptionists and wounded five other people.
The jurors deliberated nine hours over two days before reaching the verdict.
If Salvi had been acquitted by reason of insanity, he would have been committed to a prison mental hospital. He could have been released eventually if authorities later determined he was sane and no longer posed a danger to society.
Salvi was charged with murdering Ms. Nichols, a receptionist at Preterm Health Services: and Ms. Lowney, the receptionist at Planned Parenthood, and wounding five other people in back-to-back shootings at the two clinics in Brookline, a Boston suburb.
“This is what you get! You should pray the rosary," Salvi screamed as he pumped 10 bullets into Nichols, witnesses testified.
Salvi was arrested the day after the killings, when he allegedly fired at least 23 shots at the windows and doors of a Norfolk, Va.. abortion clinic.
Salvi's lawyer. J.W. Carney Jr. said Salvi suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, a mental disorder characterized by delusions of persecution. He repeatedly asked Ms. Dortch-Okara to declare his client incompetent to stand trial. Prosecutor John Kivlan argued d Salvi methodically planned his crime.
On Saturday, Carney disclosed the judge had turned down a defense request last week to let Salvi take the stand and make statements without submitting to cross-examination. Some experts said the judge's decision could provide the defense with grounds for appeal.
Salvi was identified first through a black duffel bag left at the crime scene. It contained a .22-caIiber semiautomatic handgun, boxes of ammunition, loose bullets, seven ammunition clips and a receipt from a shooting range made out to "John."
Kivlan argued Salvi had set out deliberately to target the abortion clinics, buying 1,000 hollow-point bullets, used primarily to kill. Witnesses said the day before the shootings, Salvi practiced firing his rifle from the hip at targets only inches away.
The defense did not rebut facts of Salvi's shooting rampage. The lawyers contended he was driven by his paranoid belief in a conspiracy against Catholics led by Freemasons and that his crime was triggered by a news report about the murders of four Catholic priests in Algeria on Dec. 27. 1994.
A defense psychiatrist, Dr. Phillip Resnick, testified Salvi's history and behavior classified him as a paranoid schizophrenic. He said Salvi told him that he thought priests armed with M.16 rifles and pistols should lead a Catholic militia.
The chief psychologist at Bridgewater State Hospital, Dr. Joel Haycock, testified for the prosecution, saying Salvi knew he was doing. But he conceded under cross-examination that some of Salvi 's actions were consistent with paranoid schizophrenia.
Before the trial started, Salvi repeatedly disrupted hearings. During jury selection, Salvi had to be carried out of court after he overturned a table and screamed out a demand to make a public statement.
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Date Modifed December 25, 2017
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