WORCESTER -- A jury rejected an insanity defense and found Joseph Druce guilty of first-degree murder yesterday in the strangulation of dismissed priest John Geoghan, a central figure in Boston's clergy sex-abuse scandal.
After the verdict was read, Druce looked at the jury and said: ''It's all right. Good job." As the jury was filing out of the courtroom, he said: ''No hard feelings. Have a good night."
Judge Francis Fecteau later imposed a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
''This state does not have capital punishment, and if it did . . . you would not be the person to carry it out," Fecteau told Druce.
Druce responded, ''I was chosen, though," before Fecteau told him not to speak.
Druce, 40, is already serving a life sentence for a different murder. Fecteau didn't address a request by Druce's lawyer, JohnLaChance, to allow his client to serve his sentence out of state. LaChance argued that his client was in danger because of testimony in which Druce criticized his treatment in the prison system. Other testimony indicated Druce was a jailhouse informant.
Druce was allowed to speak before the sentencing and gave a rambling speech in which he said he killed Geoghan to stop him from molesting children. Druce also said he accepted his punishment.
''Hold the pedophiles accountable, as well as myself," he said.
Druce admitted sneaking into Geoghan's cell in August 2003. He jammed the door shut with a book and then beat and strangled the 68-year-old Geoghan before the guards could stop him.
The defense had argued that Druce was mentally ill and under the delusion that God had chosen him to kill Geoghan, sending a message to pedophiles around the world.
After the verdict was announced, LaChance acknowledged the long odds of succeeding with an insanity defense. ''With the killing of a person, and when the defendant admits he did it, I think juries are very reluctant to acquit on any basis," he said.
Prosecutor Lawrence Murphy told jurors that Druce was a conniving killer who planned the murder for weeks so he could be a ''big shot" in prison.
The jury of five women and seven men deliberated for about seven hours over two days before reaching the guilty verdict early yesterday afternoon. There will be an automatic appeal.
Druce's mother and grandmother were in the courtroom, but they left without commenting to reporters.
At the time of his death, Geoghan was in prison for fondling a 10-year-old boy, but he was accused in lawsuits of sexually abusing some 150 children.
His case helped spark the clergy sexual-abuse scandal after church personnel records released under court order revealed that the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston had transferred Geoghan from parish to parish, even after allegations of abuse surfaced.