A Hartford Superior Court jury convicted Gregory McArthur of felony murder, manslaughter, larceny and kidnapping charges Friday in connection with the 1998 death of the ex-wife of former KISS guitarist Vinnie Vincent and part-time escort AnnMarie Cusano, according to the Hartford Courant.
But the jury acquitted McArthur of charges of murder, capital murder and robbery charges. The jury apparently was not convinced that McArthur had stolen Cusano's car, even though a convicted drug dealer testified McArthur had "rented" the car to him in exchange for cocaine.
The five-week trial had some dramatic moments: McArthur broke down three times and vomited in court when he was shown pictures of Cusano's remains. He also took the stand in his own defense, offering a riveting account of how he was robbed by drug dealers, who killed Cusano and dumped him on top of her body in a secluded area of Suffield.
The mixed verdict, which took more than four full days of deliberation, showed the jury believed McArthur, 42, of Hartford, had not intended to kill Cusano, 42, of Shelton, but did so as he kidnapped her or held her against her will, said Senior Assistant State's Attorney Gary Nicholson.
"I'm sure the family is going to be very satisfied with this verdict," he said.
McArthur threw his sister a kiss as he waved goodbye on Friday. He did not cry or break down as he had done three times during the trial that started Nov. 14. Cusano's twin 20-year-old daughters had attended part of the trial but were not there when the verdict was announced.
McArthur's sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 31, after a pre-sentencing report is completed. If he is given the maximum penalty, McArthur could serve life in prison.
Senior Public Defender M. Fred DeCaprio argued repeatedly that the prosecution had not proved that McArthur was the killer. Those arguments apparently were troublesome to the 12-member jury, who asked 15 questions about the law.
The jury repeatedly asked Judge Joseph Koletsky to explain the definition of intent, kidnapping and finally felony murder. Twice the jury asked what steps they should take if they could not come up with an agreement on a particular charge.
After the verdict, David Smith, another public defender, declined to comment on the outcome. He also would not characterize the jury's decision. "I think this jury worked extremely hard."
Cusano was reported missing by her twin daughters, who were aware of her secret life. Almost immediately, Shelton police fingered McArthur as a suspect because the Hartford man reportedly was her last date in January 1998, according to telephone records from the escort service.
In September 2000, police interviewed McArthur for more than 17 hours. He confessed to the crime and led investigators to the body.
His mother was not present for the verdict but said earlier that her son "was a good child."
During court recesses, McArthur's mother, who asked not to be identified, showed off her son's report cards and basketball certificates from Plainville High School, which he attended as a Project Concern student. McArthur's records show he had once earned A's and B's and obtained O's for outstanding conduct, she said.