AP, Apr. 8, 2003
By ANDREW KRAMER Associated Press writer Tuesday, April 08, 2003
NEWPORT, Ore. (AP) — Christian Longo, who had already admitted killing his wife and youngest child, was convicted Monday of killing his two older children as well.
The lifeless bodies of Longo’s wife and three children were found in Oregon coastal inlets in December 2001.
Facing a possible death penalty sentence, Longo had admitted to killing his wife MaryJane and their 2-year-old daughter, Madison. But he contended during the trial that his wife had drowned their two older children.
He claimed during testimony that he killed MaryJane and Madison in a fit of rage after returning from work to find she had killed the two other children, 4-year-old Zachery and Sadie, 3.
But the jury did not believe him, convicting him on Monday of four counts of aggravated murder — two counts for the deaths of each of the two older children. Under Oregon law, a murder suspect can be charged with additional counts if the victim is a child.
The jury took less than five hours to reach its verdict.
Longo showed no emotion as the verdict was read, but his mother, Joy, wept as Judge Robert Huckleberry spoke.
After the verdict, Penny Dupuie, MaryJane’s sister, walked out of the courtroom, frantically dialing relatives on her cell phones and jumping up and down, elated.
“You know how we feel,” Dupuie said to reporters who asked for her reaction.
Longo’s family, including his mother, adoptive father, brother and sister-in-law, who attended the trial, declined to talk to reporters immediately after the verdict was read.
Huckleberry told the jury to return Wednesday for the beginning of the penalty phase.
During the four-week trial, prosecutors described Longo as a cold-hearted man with a taste for fine wine and cars the family could not afford who killed his family so he could enjoy a more uninhibited lifestyle.
Prosecutor Paulette Sanders told the jury in closing arguments Thursday that Longo’s version of his family’s death was yet another lie in a string of deceit.
“He lied and lied repeatedly — to his wife, to his parents, to the elders of his church, to his old friends, to his new friends here in Newport. He lied to the police. Now he’s lying to you,” she said.
Longo fled to Mexico where an FBI agent caught him three weeks later at a beach resort in Tulum. Longo had partied and snorkeled, and was romantically involved with a German tourist, according to testimony.
Longo’s court-appointed attorney, Steven Krasik, told jurors he understood if they didn’t believe his client. But Krasik said that police overlooked evidence that may have confirmed Longo’s story and said reasonable doubt exists.
Krasik said a surveillance video from a grocery store in Newport may have backed up a portion of Longo’s story, but was accidentally recorded over.
The video may have shown MaryJane alive on Dec. 17, a day after prosecutors say she likely died, Krasik said.