BY KEYONNA SUMMERS and KAUSTUV BASU
A jury Friday found Travis Lee Edwards guilty of first degree premeditated murder in connection with the 2004 strangling and beating death of his twin brother’s girlfriend.
Edwards also was found guilty of a kidnapping and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
During the four-day trial, attorneys for Edwards, a diagnosed schizophrenic, admitted he killed 27-year-old Karen Muscovitz on Jan. 4, 2004, then for two days held hostage a friend of hers who dropped by the home Edwards shared with the victim and his brother.
“I am ecstatic. We finally get justice,” said Arnie Muscovitz, the victim’s 60-year-old father who lives in Lowell, Mass. “I have been flying back and forth to Florida for so many years.”
The state attorney’s office has waived the death penalty in the case.
Defense attorneys had argued that Edwards was legally insane at the time of the incident, and believed that Karen Muscovitz was a spy with a mob organization trying to kill him and his sibling.
Edwards’ brother and guardian, Brent Edwards, was in jail at the time of the killing.
Edwards’ mother, Jan Carey, testified Thursday afternoon that her son began displaying signs of paranoia more than 15 years ago.
“He just felt like planes flying overhead, people that lived next door were spying on him,” said Carey, the first defense witness. “He needed a psychiatrist, he needed an evaluation or something, he needed help.”
However, Assistant State Attorney Rob Park countered that Edwards never tried to harm Muscovitz until he was alone with her because he knew what he was doing and the consequences he might face.
Even if were suffering from a delusion at the time of the alleged attack, prosecutors argued that he was still guilty because he was not acting in self-defense against a perceived attack by Muscovitz.
Prosecution witnesses included police officers, the medical examiner and the hostage, Jerry Dunn Jr. Jurors also heard audio and saw video of police negotiations during a standoff in which SWAT members took Edwards into police custody.
Contact Summers at 242-3642 or firstname.lastname@example.org