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Dahmer’s Jurors Say the Trial Will Change Their Lives With PM-Dahmer Sentence

February 17, 1992

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Jurors say they have yet to feel the full effect of the three troubling weeks they spent in isolation listening to the twisted tale of how Jeffrey Dahmer killed and dismembered 15 boys and men.

″Somewhere down the road, this may hit me like a ton of bricks,″ juror Russell P. Fenstermaker said Sunday. ″I am beginning to think there is no such thing as normal after this.″

The 12-member jury Saturday found that Dahmer was sane when he committed the slayings. The 31-year-old former chocolate factory worker was to be sentenced today to life in prison instead of an open-ended stay in a mental hospital had he been found insane.

″Oh yes, it will change my life,″ said Lori A. Sundt, 31. ″It was very stressful.″

″If you could come out of something like that and say it could not have changed your life, you are a liar,″ Fenstermaker said. ″I think all of us came home with a greater appreciation of what our families mean to us, what our friends mean to us.″

One of the youngest jurors, 22-year-old Michael G. Weddle, didn’t want to talk or think about the trial when he came home, said his father, Sammie Weddle.

″He was so uptight. It is going take him a day or two to wind down,″ the father said.

Roger Bell, a University of Louisville professor, counseled jurors after the verdict. He said he talked about symptoms of stress such as irritability and sleeplessness, ″so if they happen to them they’ll know they are normal.″

″There were sleepless nights but for me it wasn’t the gruesome evidence coming out,″ said Elba C. Duggins. It was ″long days and wondering what is going on in the outside world.″

″One of the girls described it as being pulled into the black hole,″ she said. ″It really was.″

Still, many jurors said the testimony was hard to take.

Fenstermaker recalled a day, early in the trial, when a psychologist testified that Dahmer had sex with some victims’ slit-open abdomens.

″It shocked me,″ he said. ″I dealt with it by just putting it out of the mind. I am not sure how I did it myself. You had to divorce yourself from the emotion of the trial or it would kill you.″

″I think there are 14 other victims in this case and that is the 14 jurors,″ Fenstermaker said. ″They have been through some traumatic times.″