Many tears were shed in the courtroom Friday as the verdicts were read for Steven Thomas Pyykola, 24,of Springfield.
He was found guilty on seven counts for the Oct. 9, 2009, murders of Zachary Porter, 24, in a Lebanon apartment and Jeffrey Smith, 51, and Glenda Smith, 48 in their Phillipsburg home.
Pyykola was found guilty of three counts of first degree murder, three counts of first degree armed criminal action and one count of burglary. He is facing life in prison without possibility of probation or parole for each of the three murder counts. In Missouri, “life” means he will serve 30 years.
Because Pyykola waived his right to allow the jury to decide his sentence, 26th Circuit Judge Kenneth M. Hayden will decide whether the three sentences for murder and the sentences for the other charges will run concurrently or consecutively during a sentencing hearing at 10 a.m. on Nov. 15.
He also will decide on sentencing for the three charges of armed criminal action and the one charge of burglary.
When asked if they would be filing a request for a new trial, without hestitation, public defenders Beth Kerry and David Kenyon said, “Yes” simultaneously.
The state rested its case on Thursday, and when court resumed on Friday, the defense rested its case without calling any witnesses. The jury began deliberations at 11 a.m. and, three hours later, was ready to return with its verdict.
Pyykola stood at his seat at the end of the defense table as the jury foreperson read each verdict. At first Pyykola was stoic, but he began to cry as the verdicts were read. After the final verdict was read and he and the attorneys were allowed to sit down, Pyykola was nearly sobbing uncontrollably.
More than a dozen people, including Miranda Smith, who had been the alleged target, were present for Jeffrey and Glenda Smith. Zachary Porter’s mother, Diane Porter, had flown from Tuscon to witness the trial. They sat together towards the front of the courtroom. Pyykola’s family sat in a pew behind them.
As the family members waited for the jury to return to the courtroom, the tension was obvious on their faces. Some leaned forward, heads in their hands. Others sat quietly. Diane Porter was trying to finish writing her victim impact statement in case the judge called for it, but that will most likely happen at the sentencing hearing.
When the final verdict was read, there were no dry eyes among any of the family members for the victims and the accused.
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