OAKLAND (CBS SF) - A 35-year-old man was convicted of first-degree murder Tuesday for the bludgeoning and stabbing death of his former lover two and a half years ago.
Jurors only deliberated for a day and a half before returning their verdict against Sean Rooney for the death of 54-year-old John Frum at Frum's apartment complex at 3149 Brookdale Ave. in Oakland's Dimond district Dec. 1, 2009.
Rooney faces at least 25 years to life in state prison when he's sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner on June 28.
In his closing argument last Friday, prosecutor Mas Morimoto said first-degree murder is the appropriate verdict for Rooney because he premeditated and deliberated the killing, telling jurors, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is not manslaughter, this is murder."
Rooney's lawyer, Susan Farrow, admitted that Rooney killed Frum but said he should only be convicted of voluntary manslaughter because he killed Frum in the heat of passion and was under the influence of alcohol and the antidepressant drug Zoloft.
Farrow said Rooney had no prior criminal record and no prior history of violence and asked, "What else could it be but the heat of passion?"
But Morimoto said that although Rooney was upset at an email that Frum sent three days before the killing, he'd had adequate time to cool down before he fatally attacked Frum.
Morimoto also said Rooney shouldn't have been overly upset because he and Frum had broken up 10 months earlier.
In addition, Morimoto said Frum's email didn't mention Rooney's name and only referred to "a smart ass" and said "someone should do something about him." He said Rooney assumed the reference was to him because Frum had called him a smart ass while they were in a relationship together.
The prosecutor said, "Angered by an email, the defendant (Rooney) went to the apartment of his ex-boyfriend, smashed his car and window and attacked him with a mallet, a smaller knife and then a larger 9-inch knife."
Rooney "had time to think about his decision," Morimoto alleged.
He said if Rooney had only intended to injure Frum and not kill him, he would have stopped after he had hit Frum with a mallet seven times and wouldn't have stabbed him 15 times.
Morimoto said, "He didn't just want to injure him, he wanted to kill him."
Farrow said she's "disappointed" with the jury's verdict but declined to make any additional comment until after Rooney is sentenced.
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