Jury finds man guilty of killing 3 family members
Published: September 29, 2012
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ST. CROIX - After four hours of deliberation Friday evening, a V.I. Superior Court jury found Ivan Petric Jr. guilty of killing three members of his family and the dog almost six years ago at the family home.
Petric, 39, stands convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of unauthorized possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, one count of animal abuse and one count of possession or the sale of ammunition in connection with the shootings.
The courtroom was still and quiet when the verdict was read by the jury foreman just before 8 p.m.
As he had done throughout all of his court hearings while the case was pending for the last six years, Petric showed no reaction to the verdicts and stood with a blank stare on his face.
Defense attorney H. Hanibal O'Bryan had no comment on the verdict, but Assistant Attorney General Tom Sedar said the jury spoke and sent a message that the community is tired of gun violence and murders, regardless of the situation. He said the police work was outstanding in the investigation of the case.
Petric's 75-year-old father, Ivan Petric Sr.; his father's companion, 69-year-old Nancy Kuiper; and Ivan Petric's younger brother, Zivko Petric, 31; and the family dog were found dead at the home Nov. 21, 2006.
At the crux of the case was Petric's state of mind on the day he committed the crimes. Prosecutors claim that despite mental illness that has been ongoing for years, Petric knew right from wrong and should be held accountable.
The defense contended that no one in their right mind would have carried out such acts and react the way that Petric has following the murders.
Jurors were instructed that they could find Petric guilty, not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity.
In his closing remarks Friday, Sedar told jurors that Petric carried out the murders in a cool, calm and calculated fashion. He said each of the victims was shot once in the chest and once in the head, and the dog was shot one time in the head.
"Seven shots were in that gun, and he only used seven and reloaded and waited for the next round of murders," Sedar said.
Petric's behavior was not that of an irrational person, but it was that of a cold blooded killer, Sedar said. The fact that Petric covered all of the bodies with a sheet, clothing, cardboard or other object, was proof that he knew right from wrong and was trying to cover up his deeds, the prosecutor said.
"He had his bags packed, because he knew what he did was wrong, and he tried to cover up the crime because he knew what he did was wrong," Sedar said.
In his closing, O'Bryan, told the jurors that the prosecution had not proved Petric's level of sanity. He said no one knows what happened or how the murders played out.
"In the twisted mind of a psychotic person he may have not been hiding the bodies, but burying them," he said.
During the trial, the officers who responded to the scene testified that when Petric was found, he was sitting in a bedroom in a corner with seven spent casings saved in a cup near him. The murder weapon, a .357-caliber revolver, and a similar gun were near Petric, hidden under a towel, according to the officers.
Petric has remained incarcerated since his arrest and faces life in prison.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.