Jurors might have felt sorry for Charlotte M. Longshaw, but they showed her no mercy.
The panel deliberated only two hours Thursday before finding the mother of four guilty of murder, a first-degree felony. Defense attorneys hoped the six men and two women would convict Longshaw of the lesser crime of manslaughter or negligent homicide."I felt extreme compassion for Marlene. It was very difficult to be the judge. There was no question she was guilty, but I felt very strongly that her way of life was hard and that led to some of her choices," one juror said in an interview late Thursday.
Other members of the panel also sympathized with the woman, the juror said.
Longshaw, 33, was accused of killing Terry Dean Stewart during a funeral home brawl near her dead brother's open casket last year. Witnesses testified she fired a single bullet at Stewart in the crowded viewing room of Memorial Estates Mortuary, 6500 S. Redwood Road.
The .22-caliber slug entered Stewart's right chest and ricocheted through his lungs and heart, killing the 32-year-old man almost instantly. More than 30 mourners, including several small children, scattered as Longshaw brandished the revolver, witnesses said.
"Whether she actually intended to kill (Stewart) or not, she should have known better," the juror said.
Heated words turned to fisticuffs before the shooting when Longshaw's half-brother, Johnnie Sloan, confronted Stewart.
"You've got a big mouth," Sloan said, referring to comments Stewart made the night before at the dead man's viewing.
"Who? Me? You don't even know me," Stewart reportedly responded.
Sloan then swung at Stewart, who took the blow and returned one. Other fights erupted momentarily between groups of women in the room. Longshaw looked up from her brother's casket, pulled the gun out and approached Stewart and Sloan in a crouched position, shouting, "Back off! Back off!"
Neither man stopped fighting until Longshaw pulled the trigger, witnesses said.
Defense attorney Jerry Mooney argued extreme emotional distress caused Longshaw to pack the pistol and brandish it. Two psychologists agreed at trial the woman suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome and chronic depression.
Longshaw's condition originated from several incidents, testified psychologist Steven Allen. At the age of 14, shortly after her father died, Longshaw was raped, he said. A few months later, she witnessed a murder at her mother's triplex.
More recently, the woman was injured in an attack by gang members after she broke up a fight at a playground. And finally, she was devastated by finding the body of her dead brother, who had overdosed on muscle relaxant medication.
All of those events, and her worry that Stewart had a gun, contributed to her actions at the funeral home, Mooney argued.
"You have to put yourself in her mind, determine what she was thinking," Mooney said.
Prosecutor Michael J. Christensen responded that being depressed and anxious doesn't give someone the right to kill another person.
"Vietnam veterans, firefighters at the (Oklahoma City bombing) and police officers are all people who have seen much, much more trauma than Charlotte Longshaw has ever seen, and they don't go out and kill someone," he said.
Longshaw sobbed and whispered, "I love you" to her crying children as she was led from court. She will be held in the mental health wing of the Salt Lake County Jail until sentencing July 8 before 3rd District Judge Glenn K. Iwasaki.