Jury finds Borelli guilty
Within 90 minutes after they began deliberating at noon Thursday, 12 jurors found Jason Richard Borelli guilty of first-degree intentional homicide. With the guilty verdict returned, the trial will enter a second phase, during which the jury will...
Within 90 minutes after they began deliberating at noon Thursday, 12 jurors found Jason Richard Borelli guilty of first-degree intentional homicide.
With the guilty verdict returned, the trial will enter a second phase, during which the jury will decide if Borelli was responsible for his actions based on his mental disease or defect plea.
"You are not to search for doubt," Douglas County Circuit Court Judge Michael Lucci told the jurors before they began their deliberations. "You are to search for the truth."
Borelli, 32, of Superior faced the charge for the Jan. 7 stabbing death of Leah Gustafson in her apartment at 1910 John Ave. She was found dying in her apartment, a samurai sword believed by police to be the murder weapon lying beside her. A trail of evidence led officers across the street to Borelli's residence, 1901 John Ave.
In March, Borelli pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
Chief public defender J. Patrick O'Neill, who represents Borelli, threw a twist into Thursday's deliberations. If the 12 jurors couldn't unanimously agree on the first-degree intentional homicide charge, they were told to consider whether Borelli is guilty of second-degree intentional homicide, a Class B felony that carries a maximum penalty of 60 years. The penalty for first-degree homicide is life imprisonment.
For the charge to justify first-degree homicide, Lucci told the jurors, it must be proven the victim did not provoke the defendant. O'Neill argued the multitude of injuries -- strangulation, repeated blows to the head with a blunt object and stabbing with a sword, all within a two-minute time frame -- showed a frenzy or rage on the part of the killer.
O'Neill argued the evidence presented by the state did not adequately answer why the crime occurred.
"The proof was in the conduct," O'Neill said in closing arguments Thursday morning, "that this was a rage, a frenzy."
Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank closed by pointing to the "mountain of evidence" in the case. Piled on the witness chair were bloody shoes, clothes and weapons. Jurors viewed pictures of the trail of blood that led Superior Police officers to Borelli's apartment, across the street from Gustafson's.
Blank referred to Wednesday's testimony by state crime lab experts that showed:
* Gustafson's DNA on the shoes and keys found in Borelli's apartment, the wad of bloody clothes found in the bathroom of his residence and the tip of the samurai sword believed to be the murder weapon.
* Gustafson's DNA mingled with Borelli's on the handle of the sword and the boxer shorts officers found Borelli wearing when he was arrested.
* Two of the fingerprints on the murder weapon were from Borelli's left middle and left ring fingers.
* Toxicology tests showed Borelli had recently used marijuana and cocaine; he also had a blood-alcohol level of 0.093 percent, over the legal driving limit.