Killer of child-molesting priest claims insanity |

Killer of child-molesting priest claims insanity

WORCESTER, Mass. – Moments after guards first pried open the jammed door of John Geoghan’s prison cell, Joseph Druce confessed that he killed the child-molesting former priest to protect other youngsters, a guard testified Wednesday as the prisoner’s murder trial began.Four guards brought Druce to the prison hospital unit, where he sobbed while confessing to killing Geoghan, guard Travis Canty said. According to prosecutors, Druce had jammed the door of Geoghan’s cell shut with a book, then strangled the defrocked priest with a pillowcase, socks and a sneaker.”He said that he did it for the children,” Canty said, “that when Geoghan got out he was going to do it again.”The defense and prosecution agree Druce killed Geoghan to “save the children” in 2003, but disagree over whether he was sane when he did it.Druce’s lawyer said he was mentally ill and driven by an “irresistible impulse” to kill Geoghan. Prosecutors contend he had planned the slaying for weeks.Geoghan was serving a nine- to 10-year sentence for groping a 10-year-old boy, but had been accused of molesting 150 youngsters in civil lawsuits.His case helped set off the sex scandal in the Roman Catholic Church after court records were unsealed showing that Boston Archdiocese officials allowed him to continue having contact with children even after the abuse allegations surfaced.Defense attorney John LaChance has claimed Druce should not be held criminally responsible because he was sexually abused as a child and suffers from dissociative disorder, a serious mental illness.Prosecutor Lawrence Murphy told the jury Druce carefully planned and carried out the killing, then bragged about it to investigators.Druce, 40, faces life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder. He is serving a life sentence for killing a hitchhiker who allegedly made a sexual pass at him. He unsuccessfully used an insanity defense during that 1989 trial.Murphy said Druce decided to kill the priest after overhearing a telephone conversation between Geoghan and his sister in which Geoghan said he planned to work with children in Costa Rica after his release.LaChance agreed that overhearing that conversation was a key moment.Druce “began to see himself as essentially the savior of the kids,” LaChance said. “He thought if he did this he would be someone.”Druce has claimed that a guard let him into Geoghan’s cell. On the stand Wednesday, David Lonergan, the only guard on duty in the 26-inmate unit where Druce and Geoghan were housed, denied that.Druce appeared calm throughout the proceeding, frequently leaning over to talk with his lawyer. During a brief court recess, his lawyer told reporters that Druce was taking Ritalin and another medication.Vail, Colorado

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