Harvey M. Robinson, 19, was convicted last night of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of two Allentown women and a teen-age girl.
A Lehigh County jury will have to decide whether to sentence Robinson to death or life imprisonment for killing Joan Mary Burghardt, Charlotte Schmoyer and Jessica Jean Fortney.
Jurors deliberated for six hours. They were sequestered overnight in a hotel and will return to court today to hear evidence for and against the death penalty.
Robinson showed no emotion when the verdicts were read at 8:50 p.m. in the courtroom, where 16 sheriff's deputies and the sheriff stood guard.
Judge Robert K. Young asked each juror individually whether he or she agreed with the verdicts. Each answered without hesitation, "Yes."
James Burke, one of Robinson's court-appointed lawyers, quickly left the courtroom to start preparing for today's hearing.
Outside the courtroom, parents and other relatives of the victims wept and hugged each other and the families of the other victims. They clung to each other for long moments, smiled and laughed between tears.
They hugged and kissed detectives who worked on the case and thanked District Attorney Robert Steinberg.
The prosecutor said the jury recognized how dangerous Robinson is. "One of the things that scared me was: God forbid that he would ever get out," Steinberg said. "He is someone that, in my opinion, would kill over and over and over."
Robinson struck Burghardt, a 27-year-old nurse's aide, 37 times on the head. He stabbed Schmoyer, a 15-year-old Dieruff High School student, 22 times and slashed her throat. He beat, strangled and suffocated Fortney, a 47-year-old grandmother. There were 50 injuries on Fortney's body.
Schmoyer would have been 17 yesterday. In memory of her daughter, Karen Schmoyer wore a small blue satin ribbon attached to her sweater with a gold guardian angel pin. On the ribbon were the words, "Forever loved, Charlotte."
"I felt she was with us the whole way," Mrs. Schmoyer said. "Now, maybe she can be put to rest."
Denise Sam-Cali, 39, who survived a rape and beating by Robinson, was relieved the other families didn't have to go through more torment.
The families were elated at the outcome but know it won't bring back their loved ones, she said.
"I had to put it through my mind again and again to make sure I was hearing it correctly," said Stanley Burghardt of the verdict in his daughter's case. "Once I was sure of it, I can't say what I really felt."
"It's just been such a long ordeal. It's hard to describe," said his son, Carl, the victim's brother.
Through 52 witnesses and 135 exhibits, Steinberg tried to piece together the victims' final moments, where they were killed, with which weapons and how.
"What causes someone to rape, sexually assault and murder three women?" Steinberg asked in his closing argument. "What state of mind does that person have when he commits such acts?"