Cheers as train killer is found guilty

ONE OF the most bizarre trials in American history came to an end on Friday night when a New York jury found Colin Ferguson, a Jamaican immigrant, guilty of murdering six people and wounding 19 others when he opened fire in a crowded commuter train in December 1993. Relatives of the victims applauded and cheered as Ferguson was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

Fifteen eyewitnesses, some of them victims, had identified Ferguson as the gunman. Not one witness had come forward to corroborate Ferguson's story that an anonymous white man had carried out the killings.

Ferguson, who conducted his own defence, will be sentenced next month. No one involved in the case doubts that he will be imprisoned for life. Alton Rose, a Jamaican lawyer who endured a frustrating task as Mr Ferguson's court adviser, told reporters after the verdict that his client had "probably" resigned himself to spending the rest of his days behind bars. "He's of the opinion that he has to go down that road himself," Mr Rose said.

Ronald Kuby, the lawyer he originally enlisted to defend him, had urged him to plead insanity caused by "black rage". Five of the victims were white, one Asian. But Ferguson refused to enter an insanity plea, fired Mr Kuby and decided to defend himself in scenes Mr Kuby described as "mental illness theatre".

The absurd height came on Thursday, when Ferguson said he had finally found a witness who would clear his name. But after talking to the witness, Raul Diaz, Ferguson chose not to put him on the stand. Diaz, who identified himself as a parapsychologist and exorcist, told reporters the CIA had planted a microchip in Ferguson's brain that had caused him, on command, to carry out the shootings.