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April 12, 2002 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-12

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NATION/WORLD

The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 12, 2002 - 5

Office murderer: Angel ordered me to kill Nazis

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) - A man who is pleading
insanity in the slayings of seven co-workers testified in the
most matter-of-fact way yesterday that he was thought he
was killing Adolf Hitler and his Nazi henchmen as part of a
divine mission to save the world from the Holocaust.
Michael McDermott - a hulking, 43-year-old man with
a bushy black beard and long, shaggy hair - said that 12
days before the December 2000 shooting rampage at
Edgewater Technology in Wakefield, the archangel St.
Michael appeared and told him how to earn a ticket to
heaven.
"The whole idea was to prevent Nazi supremacy," the
software engineer said. "I felt great. For the first time in my
life I felt I could achieve what everyone takes for granted -
that I could have a soul and go to heaven."
He also told the jury that he once attempted suicide, that
he had been raped as a boy, and that he heard voices in his
head.
Prosecutors say McDermott planned the slayings in retali-
ation for the company's plan to withhold some of his wages
to pay $5,600 in back taxes.
McDermott calmly described how he walked through his
office, firing his AK-47 rifle and shotgun. He said he had

been transported in time to Hitler's Berlin bunker in 1940,
and saw Nazis, not colleagues.
"There were two men and a woman in front of me. Both
of the men had swastika armbands. I immediately shot both
of the men," McDermott said.
He said he shot three more "Nazis" when he heard
"Hitler's thoughts" coming from the accounting office.
"The last Nazi was there. I shot and killed him. And
Hitler was there. I shot and killed him," he said. "My mis-
sion was complete. I knew at this point I had a soul"
He returned to the office reception area, where he was
arrested. He told the jury that he died at a Berlin police sta-
tion from a combination of painkillers and vodka he downed
before the shootings.
The testimony came before a courtroom packed with rela-
tives of the victims. Midway through McDermott's explana-
tion of the shootings, a male relative stood up, uttered an
obscenity and left. He was followed by nearly a dozen more
relatives.
McDermott acknowledged that he bought a book, "Clini-
cal Assessment of Malingering and Deception," which helps
detect when someone is faking mental illness, and had
downloaded material about faking psychological disorders.
z Trafican1

Defense attorney Kevin Reddington walked McDermott
through his history of mental problems, trying to show a
pattern of hallucinations that culminated in the shootings.
McDermott claimed he was repeatedly harassed by an ex-
girlfriend who worked witl him at the Maine Yankee
nuclear plant. Reddington said an investigation showed that
McDermott actually made the phone calls.
McDermott also claimed he was exposed to radiation,
which "pretty much killed my thyroid." Reddington, however,
said a blood test showed no evidence of radiation exposure.
When Reddington asked McDermott what year this is, he
responded: "I have no idea."
Reddington disputed prosecutors' account that McDermott
was angry about the tax issue, saying there was at least
$50,000 in his retirement account at the time of the shootings
and he wasn't having financial difficulties. He said McDer-
mott suffers from mental illnesses including paranoia, schizo-
phrenia and a disorder that makes people think they are dead.
"The voices in my head, I clustered them into different
groups," McDermott said. "The major one I call the chorus.
Its job is to tell me what a bad person I am.... The chorus
continuously tells me what a bad person I am, what a waste
of space and skin and air I am."

"Hitler was there. I shot and
killed him. ... My mission was
complete. I knew I had a soul."
- Michael McDermott
Software engineer
One of the "non-chorus" groups, he said, tells him to
steal things.
He also said he had left his job at the nuclear plant
because "I had gone crazy." He said he attempted suicide by
slashing his wrist.
McDermott also claimed he was raped several times by
a neighbor when he was 8, though it was never reported
to police.
McDermott said he got a vasectomy after his 1992
marriage.
"Neither my wife nor I wanted children and I had bad
genes," he said. "I wouldn't want to pass my craziness to
someone else and I had years of exposure to radiation."

convicted of all charges,

says he won't resign from Congress

CLEVELAND (AP) - Rep. James Traficant Jr.
was convicted yesterday of taking bribes and
kickbacks from businessmen and his own staff
after a raucous and often-farcical trial in which
the fiery congressman insisted on serving as his
own lawyer.
The nine-term Democrat was found guilty of all
10 federal charges he faced, including racketeering,
bribery and fraud. The jury also ordered him to for-
feit $96,000 in ill-gotten gains.
After each count, the judge asked Traficant,
known for his arm-waving rants on the House floor,
if he wanted the jurors to restate their verdict.
"No," Traficant replied softly with uncharacteristic
meekness, standing with his hands folded in front of
him. He later told the jury the evidence was circum-
stantial and the trial was "a very unfair process." But
he added: "I accept your verdict."
He later told reporters he didn't think he had much
of a chance on appeal.
Traficant faces up to 63 years in prison at sentenc-
ing June 27 but will probably receive a much shorter
term under federal guidelines. He could be fined
hundreds of thousands of dollars.
He could also be expelled from the House, some-
thing that has happened only once since the Civil
AP PHOTO War. His felony conviction triggered an automatic
investigation by the Committee on Standards of Offi-
cial Conduct, and House Democratic Leader Richard

Gephardt said Traficant should resign.
"At the heart of all public service is personal
integrity. A member of Congress who breaks the law
betrays the public trust and brings discredit to the
House of Representatives," Gephardt said.
Outside court, Traficant angrily said he would not
resign.
"I still have some rights as an American," Traficant
said. "I've never been a quitter. I'm not going to quit
now."
Traficant's Youngstown-area district was eliminat-
ed this year, but he has said he will run as an inde-
pendent in a neighboring district.
The 60-year-old congressman contended the gov-
ernment was out to get him because he single-hand-
edly beat the FBI in a racketeering case 19 years ago,
when he was a Mahoning County sheriff accused of
taking mob money. Back then, as in this case, he rep-
resented himself without benefit of a law degree, and
successfully argued that he was conducting his per-
sonal sting.
The acquittal made him something of a folk hero
in the corruption-riddled Youngstown area and
helped get him elected to Congress. He quickly
became known for his unruly hair, loud wardrobe
and tempestuous floor speeches in which he railed
against the Justice Department and the IRS. The
rants often ended with an exasperated "Beam me
up!"

Among the charges against him this time were fil-
ing false tax returns and receiving gifts and free labor
from businessmen in return for his political help. He
also took cash kickbacks - and free labor on his
houseboat and at his horse farm - from members of
his staff.
Prosecutors called 55 witnesses to testify
against Traficant and submitted as evidence bank
records showing large cash deposits. They also
produced a briefcase stuffed with $24,500 in cash
that one witness said the congressman asked him
to hide.
Former Traficant staff member Allen Sinclair testi-
fied that he was hired under an agreement that he
give his boss $2,500 in cash each month.
In addition, Traficant had office workers bale hay,
fix farm equipment and build a corral at his farm.
Prosecutors said he also helped contractors with
legal disputes and lobbied for them in exchange for
free work at his farm, including paving a barn floor,
fixing drainage systems, removing trees and spread-
ing gravel.
Traficant said many of the government's witnesses
had previously lied under oath or struck deals to tes-
tify. He also argued than helping local businesses was
part of his job-
"I didn't force anybody to do anything. You know
what I did: I fought like hell for my people!" he
shouted in opening statements.

Rep. James Traficant Jr. talks with reporters while leaving federal court In
Cleveland yesterday after being convicted on all charges he faced.

Senate passes bill preventing
voter fraud, ballot problems

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senators voted yesterday to
make states correct the kinds of balloting problems that
threw Florida's presidential vote into dispute and to
address voter fraud that occurred in other parts of the
country.
The 99-1 passage of the bill capped a months-long
argument between Republicans and Democrats over
how much power the federal government should wield
over states and whether tough anti-fraud standards
would cost poor voters their ballots.
In the end, both sides got a little of what they want-
ed.
As Democrats sought, states would get $3.5 billion in
grants to upgrade equipment and procedures in
exchange for meeting increased federal standards. In a
concession to Republicans, voters who register by mail
would have to show identification the first time they
vote.
The deal isn't final. Senate negotiators must still
resolve differences with the House, which passed its
own $2.6 billion version in December. Both bills spend
the money over five years.
"This has been a marathon," said Sen. Chris Dodd
(D-Conn.), one of the measure's authors. "While we
aren't at the finish yet, meaningful election reform took
an important step forward today and the real winners
are the American people."
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the bill's Repub-
lican sponsor, said the bill makes the nation's election
systems "more accurate, more accessible and more
honest."
Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), the only lawmaker to
vote against the bill, complained that it was "a one-
size-fits-all solution that failed to serve a rural state
like Montana."
The bill is intended to prevent a recurrence of the
balloting problems in Florida that marred the 2,000

election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, delay-
ing a decision in the presidential race until 36 days
after Election Day.
The identification requirements stem from fraud alle-
gations that cropped up in places like Missouri, where
a dead alderman and a dog were registered to vote.
Under the bill, first-time voters who registered by
mail can prove their identities with photo IDs, utility
bills or some other documents.
Voters in Oregon and Washington state, which have
mail-in voting, could write their driver's license num-
ber or the last four digits of their Social Security num-
ber on forms when they initially register to vote. No
further documentation would be needed for mail-in vot-
ing.
Both the House and Senate bills establish things like
statewide registration lists and provisional voting to
improve election systems.
Under provisional voting, people who do not appear
on election rolls but say they are eligible to vote could
vote. Election officials later would determine whether
the ballots were valid.
In a key difference, the House version establishes
voluntary standards and gives states the leeway to craft
their own improvements. The Senate version mandates
that states make certain changes.
, Civil rights groups have lobbied heavily for the Sen-
ate version, but state and local governments prefer the
House bill.
Yesterday, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, chairwoman
of the Congressional Black Caucus, said she would
push for the Senate version of the bill. "Hopefully we
are on our way to the final end of this so every Ameri-
can voter can feel they are part of a real democracy,"
Johnson (D-Texas) said.
The White House has already signaled its support for
some sort of election overhaul bill.

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