A Manhattan jury took barely five hours Thursday to convict Kenneth Minor of murder in the bizarre suicide-for-hire stabbing of Woodmere motivational speaker Jeffrey Locker in Harlem in 2009.
Prosecutors conceded that Locker, 52, hired Minor to help kill him to escape spiraling debts and allow his family to collect millions in life insurance, but jurors quickly rejected defense claims that Locker's role in his own death made it assisted suicide rather than murder.
"This was murder for money, not a mercy killing, which is why we prosecuted the case as an intentional murder," said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.
Jurors were hustled out of the courthouse by security officers after the verdict and declined to comment. Two alternate jurors, released earlier in the day, said they never bought Minor's claim that he just held a knife while Locker impaled himself.
William Schoenmaker, a technical manager for Sony, said he had no sympathy for Locker, but didn't think the assisted suicide defense was meant for hired killers.
"I can't feel bad for anybody in this case," Schoenmaker said. "It's sad everything was brought to this point."
Locker, married with three children, was found dead with six stab wounds to the chest in Harlem on July 16, 2009. He had $18 million in life insurance -- $12 million acquired just before his death that would not pay out for a suicide -- and had inquired about funeral arrangements.
In New York, assisted suicide -- "causing or aiding" another person to commit suicide -- is manslaughter, and is a defense to a murder charge. But the Locker case was the first one lawyers could find in which it was used.