- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - A jury has rejected a man’s insanity defense and convicted him of first-degree murder for shooting and killing a Seattle police officer as he sat in a patrol car.

The King County jury announced Friday it also found Christopher Monfort guilty of two charges of attempted murder and one arson charge. Monfort was found not guilty on one count of attempted murder.

Superior Court Judge Ronald Kessler said the guilty verdict in Officer Timothy Brenton’s 2009 killing means the jury must return to decide if Monfort should spend the rest of his life in prison or be sent to death row, the Seattle Times reported (https://bit.ly/1Qc8lNx).

The judge ordered jurors to come back June 16 to begin the second phase of the trial.

Jurors started deliberations Monday after hearing testimony from dozens of witnesses over about four months, with the past two months of the trial focused on Monfort’s mental state when he waged what prosecutors called a one-man war against the Seattle Police Department. Monfort pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

The defense did not dispute that Monfort killed Brenton and tried to kill other officers. Instead, they argued he was mentally ill, suffering from a delusional disorder. His attorneys said Monfort believed that if enough police officers were randomly killed, the deaths would put an end to instances of police brutality.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Baird said Monfort is a violent extremist who is “not normal,” but he said that does not make him insane.

“I would suggest there is ample evidence . Mr. Monfort was quite sane when he committed these crimes,” Baird said during closing arguments.

Monfort was accused of setting fire to police vehicles and detonating pipe bombs at Seattle’s Charles Street maintenance yard Oct. 22, 2009. He rigged the makeshift explosives to go off as officers responded to the scene, according to charging documents.

Nine days later, on Halloween night, Monfort ambushed Brenton and his then-rookie partner, Britt Kelly, as they sat in a patrol car in Seattle’s Leschi neighborhood.

Brenton died instantly, and Kelly suffered a minor wound.

Jurors reached their verdict late Thursday afternoon, but it wasn’t read in court until Friday morning. Brenton’s position as a police officer performing his official duties is the factor that qualified Monfort for the potential death penalty.

“For nearly six years, family and colleagues have awaited justice,” Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said in a statement. “I hope the verdict today brings some comfort to Tim’s loved ones and close SPD friends.”

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Information from: The Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com

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