Michael Swanson laughed for the cameras when he was arraigned after a grisly double homicide in Iowa last fall, and the 18-year-old from St. Louis Park smiled and flipped off reporters today when he was convicted of killing Sheila Myers.
News reports say the jury had barely deliberated an hour when it came back with the guilty verdict, evidently never believing Swanson's defense that he was mentally ill and not responsible for his actions.
Swanson's mother gave heart-wrenching testimony yesterday during the trial about her son's trouble-plagued, mentally-ill life. Today she was crying as the verdict was read -- and her son smiled.
Then he laughed and raised a pair of middle fingers as he was led away. WCCO has the video:
The family released a statement today read by Pastor John Nelson of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Hopkins. It read in part:
"We want to express our deepest and most profound sympathies and condolences for the families, extended families, friends, and communities that were affected by this horrible tragedy. What happened on November 15th was truly devastating to all of the families involved."
"As parents, nothing has prepared us for this type of a tragedy. We had previously sought assistance and tried to get help for our son Michael, whom we love and we are heartbroken by these events. We hope the trial will present the desperate realities some families face whose children suffer from mental illness."
The Des Moines Register says Michael Swanson will be sentenced to life in prison at a later date. And he still faces a separate trial in the murder of Vicky Bowman-Hall.