Massachusetts jurors begin deliberations in trial of pedophile priest's killer

A jury is scheduled to resume deliberations Wednesday to determine the fate of an inmate charged with the jailhouse strangling of John Geoghan, the child-molesting priest at the center of Boston's Roman Catholic sex scandal. After more than two weeks of testimony that centered largely on whether Joseph Druce was insane when he killed Geoghan, the panel was given the case Tuesday.

The prosecutor said in his closing argument that Druce was a calculating and conniving killer who planned the murder for weeks so he could be a "big shot" in prison. But Druce's lawyer said Druce was severely mentally ill and under the delusion that God had chosen him to kill Geoghan and send a message to pedophiles around the world.

Druce admits sneaking into Geoghan's cell at the Souza-Baranowski prison in Shirley in August 2003. He jammed the door shut with a book, then beat and strangled the 68-year-old Geoghan.

Prosecutor Lawrence Murphy said Druce told investigators he spent two hours stretching socks into the rope he used to strangle Geoghan, and he made friendly visits to Geoghan's cell so the defrocked priest wouldn't suspect anything when he came to kill him.

"He was not a mentally ill person, raging out of control," Murphy said. "He's a calculating individual who waited for his opportunity." Geoghan was serving a nine- to 10-year sentence for groping a 10-year-old boy and also was accused in civil lawsuits of molesting nearly 150 boys over three decades.

Murphy urged the jury not to let Geoghan's notoriety as a pedophile influence their decision. "No one likes pedophiles, but we can't go around grabbing pedophiles and killing them," he said. Druce's lawyer, John LaChance, recapped Druce's troubled childhood, saying he would repeatedly bang his head against windows as a toddler and was molested as a boy at a school for troubled youths.

LaChance said that when Druce killed Geoghan, it was the culmination of a rage that had built up inside him because of his own sexual abuse. He said Druce had heard Geoghan discussing with other inmates about how to molest young boys.

Druce, 40, is already serving a life sentence for killing a man who allegedly made a sexual pass at him after picking Druce up hitchhiking. Druce unsuccessfully used an insanity defense during that 1989 trial. If convicted of Geoghan's murder, Druce would receive another life sentence without the possibility of parole, reports the AP. N.U.

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