Longo guilty of all four murders.
NEWPORT - Zachery and Sadie Longo died at the hands of their father, Christian Michael Longo, a jury decided after little more than four hours of deliberation Monday.
Longo, flanked by his defense lawyers, showed no outward emotion as Lincoln County Circuit Judge Robert Huckleberry read guilty verdicts to all four counts of aggravated murder in the two children's deaths.
With the verdicts, jurors unanimously rejected Longo's testimony blaming his wife, MaryJane, for killing Zachery, 4, and Sadie, 3. Longo claimed that he strangled MaryJane after learning of the deaths and then killed the couple's youngest child, Madison, 2.
Longo's mother, Joy Longo, and MaryJane's sister, Penny Dupuie, mopped tears during the five-minute court hearing.
In a statement to news reporters afterward, Sally Clark, another of MaryJane's sisters, thanked jurors for their work on the case.
"Thank you for holding Chris accountable for once in his life. Thank you for clearing MaryJane's name," she said, her voice cracking with emotion.
In a statement issued over the weekend, Longo's family said they are "exhausted and emotionally spent."
"Along with everyone else who has followed this trial, we have heard the charges, we have seen the evidence, and we have had to envision the deaths of our loved ones," the statement read.
Word of the verdict spread quickly through Newport.
Shopping at the Fred Meyer store where Longo worked, Rollie Johnson said he could not understand why Longo - after pleading guilty to murdering his wife and youngest child - would make up such a farfetched story about his wife's involvement.
"What difference would it make, even if we did believe him?" Johnson wondered.
Newport resident Jenese Mullin heard about the verdict on a radio news broadcast.
"My initial reaction was, `We got him. Yea!' But you don't want to celebrate. The whole thing has been so sad, and then to have him try to blame it on his wife," Mullin said.
In closing argument last week, a prosecutor described Longo's story as nonsense. Longo annihilated his family to rid himself of a wife he no longer loved and children he could not support so he could create a new identity and lead the life of a footloose bachelor, said Paulette Sanders, chief deputy Lincoln County district attorney.
Evidence showed Longo, 29, had produced a fake driver's license to steal a minivan and had researched ways to acquire a new Social Security number and identity.
Exhibits in the trial included a postcard written by MaryJane but mailed in South Dakota by Longo. Prosecutors claimed that Longo intended the postmark to throw MaryJane's family off their trail. Longo - a step ahead of arrest warrants for fraud and theft in Michigan and Ohio - had hurriedly packed the family's belongings and fled without notice to anyone.
Several of Longo's co-workers testified that Longo told them in the days just before the murders were discovered that MaryJane left him for another man and took the children. Longo told some of the witnesses that he intended to move soon to be near his children.
Sanders told jurors that Longo might have gotten away with four murders had Zachery's body not floated free and been found in a slough within days of his murder.
Longo fled Newport two days later in a stolen sport utility vehicle. Three weeks later, the FBI caught up with him at a tourist spot on a beach in Mexico.
Huckleberry gave both sides a day to prepare for the penalty phase of the case, now set to begin Wednesday.
Jurors will consider more evidence before deciding whether Longo goes to Oregon's death row or just to prison.
Joy Long, mother of Christian Longo, wipes away tears as she listens to the verdicts in his trial in Newport on Monday. Longo: The trial's penalty phase will begin Wednesday Continued from Page A1
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|Title Annotation:||Jurors reject his claim that his wife, MaryJane, killed two of their three children; Crime|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Apr 8, 2003|
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