Victims of Commuter Train Massacre Express Anger, Sadness
MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) _ People wounded in a commuter train massacre and relatives of those killed walked out of court en masse today when the convicted gunman stood to address the judge before sentencing.
``This day is significant in a number of ways,″ began Colin Ferguson, who represented himself at his trial and even cross-examining wounded victims.
His rambling attempts at rebutting the victims’ presentencing statements were repeatedly cut off by Judge Donald Belfi. The prosecutor, George Peck, objected several times as Ferguson tried to talk about alleged attacks on him in jail.
Only reporters and court officers were left in the courtroom after the victims’ and their families left.
Ferguson was convicted of killing six people and wounding 19 on a Long Island Rail Road train on Dec. 7, 1993. He faces 25 years to life in prison on each of the six murder counts. He continues to maintain his innocence.
Before his turn to speak, Ferguson was stone-faced through the morning session. He showed no emotion even when shooting victim Marlene Francois stood weeping uncontrollably just a few feet away.
``You continue to cause me pain,″ said Francois, the last victim to speak. ``You refuse to accept responsibility for what you did. You continue to show disrespect to my life and the lives of others. ... You are nothing but a joker.″
Arlene LoCicero, mother of murder victim Amy Federici, quoted Bible passages during her composed appearance on the stand. Victim Lisa Combatti, who was pregnant when Ferguson shot her, asked for the maximum sentence.
On Tuesday, the second day of the three-day sentencing hearing, lawyers and spectators were reduced to tears as a dozen victims gave statements.
Ferguson ``was oblivious to it all,″ said his legal adviser, Alton Rose. ``I can’t figure out why nothing that the people said touched him.″
``I don’t believe you are crazy, Colin Ferguson,″ said Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed in the attack and whose 27-year-old son, Kevin, nearly died from a gunshot wound to the head. ``I believe you knew exactly what you were doing that night. ... Today you will be sentenced and you will be gone from my thoughts forever. We will learn to laugh again. We will learn to love again and we will all survive. But you will not.″
Kevin McCarthy also spoke Tuesday, sobbing, with his mother’s arm around his shoulders, as he pleaded with Belfi to deliver a severe punishment.
``I ask the court to take consideration of the fact I will have to endure painful ... and constant rehabilitation due to this madman’s actions for the rest of my life,″ he said.
Robert Giugliano, who was wounded, said he saw a woman die at his feet, her blood splattering his clothes.
``The fear and pain I felt I will never forget,″ he said. ``In my heart I feel this animal should suffer until the day he dies.″
Giugliano had to be restrained by court officers as he walked by Ferguson and screamed: ``You remember these eyes. You’re nothing but a piece of garbage.″
Another Ferguson legal adviser, Dennis Lemke, wept during Tuesday’s statements.
He said later that Ferguson turned to him and said: ``I see you crying.″
Lemke replied: ``Yes, but understand it has nothing to do with your guilt or innocence. These people have suffered.″