BROCKTON — A Plymouth County Superior Court judge today sentenced self-described white supremacist Keith Luke to serve two consecutive life sentences without parole after a jury convicted him of a raft of charges for a bloody rampage that targeted nonwhites in 2009.
Despite his attorney’s claims that he was mentally ill, Luke was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for fatally shooting Selma Goncalves, 20, and Arlindo DePina Goncalves, 79, in Brockton in January 2009. (The two were not related.)
Luke, 26, of Brockton, was also convicted of raping and shooting another woman. She survived and testified against him at the trial.
Dressed in a white T-shirt and green pants, Luke sat stoically next to his attorney, Joseph Krowski Jr., as the surviving victim gave an impact statement today from the witness stand.
“My life has been nothing but a nightmare since Jan. 21, 2009,” she said. “I’m no longer able to answer a knock on my door from family or friends without fear or memory of this tragic day.” The Globe is not naming her because she is a victim of a sexual assault.
The five-woman, seven-man jury deliberated for about eight hours over two days, evaluating evidence that included 293 exhibits, 4,500 pages of Luke’s mental health records, and two hours of videotaped interviews police conducted with him.
Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz called Luke a savage, evil person who deserved the death penalty.
“The jury made the determination that he was criminally responsible and that he was competent, and don’t forget that a lot of those medical records were done years ago, and that he had been out [of a mental hospital] for approximately four years prior to the time [of the murders] with no issues whatsoever,” Cruz said.
After the verdict against Luke was announced, Judge Frank Gaziano immediately moved to sentence Luke, who was guarded by a small platoon of uniformed and plainclothes law enforcement officers during the two-week trial.
In his closing argument Wednesday, defense attorney Krowski told jurors that Luke was the person who committed the crimes, but said Luke was a man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and should not be held criminally responsible. Luke did not testify in his own defense at the trial.
The first-degree murder convictions will automatically be reviewed by the Supreme Judicial Court. The jury deliberated from noon until 3:30 p.m. Wednesday; they returned their verdict just after 2 p.m. today.
The interim director of the Anti-Defamation League’s New England office issued a statement applauding the verdict and the pursuit of Luke by Brockton police and Plymouth prosecutors.
“Luke was on a hate-motivated mission to kill Jews and non-whites and this verdict means that our community is safer tonight,’’ Robert Trestan said.
“Luke, like all perpetrators of hate crimes, was trying to send a message to his victims — and everyone else who shares the victim’s characteristics – that they are not welcome or safe. Now that he has been brought to justice, we hope a louder, stronger message resonates: that all people are welcome and safe in Brockton and across Massachusetts,” Trestan said.