ORLANDO, Fla. – A teenager who mental health experts say wanted to become a serial killer was convicted Wednesday of luring his 14-year-old friend to a middle school bathroom and stabbing him to death in 2004.
A jury deliberated for about 3 1/2 hours before convicting Michael Hernandez, now 18, of first-degree murder in the slaying and of the attempted murder of another classmate.
The defense argued Hernandez was insane and not criminally responsible for luring Jaime Gough into the bathroom at Miami's Southwood Middle School, then slitting his throat and stabbing him at least 42 times.
But prosecutors said he was a smart student who wore a windbreaker and latex gloves for the attack in an effort to keep blood off his clothes.
When the verdict was read, Hernandez showed no reaction but was nervously moving his foot under the defense table. He left the courtroom flanked by deputies and never looked back at his parents, who sat two rows behind him.
His mother, Kathy, held her head in her hands and openly wept when she heard the guilty verdict. The parents of the victim, Jorge and Maria Gough, cried and hugged one another.
Hernandez faces life in prison. The trial was moved to Orlando because of the wide publicity of the case, but his sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 7 in Miami.
During closing statements earlier in the day, Rosenbaum said his client dramatically changed from being a happy kid in the summer following seventh grade.
"At the end of seventh grade, his life was spiraling out of control," Rosenbaum told the jury. "He was going crazy. He was losing it."
Assistant Miami-Dade State Attorney Carin Kahgan said Hernandez lied to his teacher and police about blood on his clothes, and eventually confessed to the crime after student witnesses placed him in the bathroom that morning and police found a bloody knife and glove in his backpack.
"Every one of those marks to Jaime's body speak out to you that the defendant intended to kill him," Kahgan said. "Stupid mistakes don't make a person legally insane."
Two defense mental health experts said Hernandez was a paranoid schizophrenic. And a third defense expert said he was delusional. All three said he was obsessed with becoming a serial killer and met the legal definition of insanity.
A prosecution psychiatrist, however, said although Hernandez had a personality disorder and had mental problems, he was able to function normally and made a "career choice" to be a killer.
Hernandez then began visiting psychology web sites to investigate his own behavior, and decided he was schizophrenic and had obsessive compulsive disorder. Rosenbaum said his client then made a "disturbing, irrational, crazy leap" that he "must be a serial killer."