BRENTWOOD, N.H. – A woman who claimed she was an angel sent from God to punish pedophiles was convicted Friday of murdering two boyfriends by a jury that rejected her insanity defense.
Sheila LaBarre, 49, was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In 2006, police found her burning trash that contained the bones of one of her victims, Kenneth Countie. The remains of Michael Deloge, killed in 2005, also were found on LaBarre's horse farm in Epping, about 50 miles north of Boston.
As the jury filed out after the verdict, relatives of the victims burst into applause.
"This is for my son," said Countie's mother, Carolynn Lodge. "(For) two years, my son could not rest. Now he can rest."
During the five-week trial, defense lawyers argued that LaBarre, 59, was a delusional woman who believed every man in her life was a pedophile and who saw herself as an avenging angel. The prosecution countered that she was a "crude, manipulative, cruel and vindictive" woman who violently lashed out at the men she dated.
Defense lawyer Jeffrey Denner said he plans to appeal.
"It continues to be our belief that she's deeply crazy and insane," he said. "We also understand there's a huge amount of emotion in this case that clouds this issue."
Dr. Albert Drukteinis, the state's forensic psychologist, testified that he believed LaBarre was sane, after reviewing more than 8,000 pages in the case file, interviewing LaBarre three times and spending more than 12 hours with her.
"She answered questions well, she tried to explain evidence away that made her look bad. This is not what someone sees over many hours in a person who is psychotic," Drukteinis testified.
He said there was not enough evidence to show that a mental illness caused LaBarre to commit her crimes. The burden of proof was on the defense to show both that LaBarre suffered from a mental disease and that the murders were a product of that illness.
In a taped interview with Drukteinis played in court, LaBarre said she was driven to kill Deloge because he was hurting and killing her animals. In a separate interview, she said Countie's death was an accident.
Jurors also heard some of the hundreds of tape recordings LaBarre made of herself, some of which featured her interrogating or berating her victims. Malcolm Rogers, a forensic psychologist who testified for the defense, said those tapes illustrated that LaBarre has either a schizophrenic affect disorder or a delusional disorder that caused her to mistakenly believe the men were pedophiles and to kill them.
Rogers also said LaBarre believes she once died of a drug overdose but was sent back to Earth as an angel with special powers.
Countie, 24, met LaBarre through a personal ad in February 2006. He moved in with her soon after and was last seen alive that March, being pushed by LaBarre in a wheelchair at Wal-Mart, his face and hands covered with cuts.
"Sheila LaBarre took advantage of my son, who was a kind, caring, gentle young man who could not socially defend himself," Lodge said. "She was a master of evil who deliberately tortured him. Sheila LaBarre stripped my son of all his dignity and self-worth, and in the end, she murdered him."
Had LaBarre been found insane, there would have been be a further hearing to determine whether she was dangerous and needed to be held in a secure facility.