The obsessed fan who stalked "My Sister Sam" actress Rebecca Schaeffer and shot her to death on her doorstep was convicted of murder after failing to convince a judge he was insane.
Robert Bardo, 21, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole."The defendant is not a normal person. The defendant may even have schizophrenia of some sort," Superior Court Judge Dino Fulgoni, who heard the case without a jury, said on Tuesday in rendering his verdict. "But . . .schizophrenics can lie in wait and can premeditate and can have the intent to kill."
The prosecution claimed that Bardo, of Tucson, Ariz., paid a detective $300 to find Schaeffer's address, got his brother to buy him a gun, took a bus to California and waited near Schaeffer's apartment in 1989. Finally, he rang the bell and shot the 21-year-old actress in the chest as she answered the door.
Bardo carried an "assassin's kit" in a plastic bag, including a postcard from Schaeffer, the book "The Catcher in the Rye" and extra bullets, prosecutors said. He was arrested the next day in Tucson.
For two years before he killed Schaeffer, Bardo sent the actress gifts, flowers and rambling letters and tried to see her at the TV studio where she worked.
As Bardo was led out of the courtroom Tuesday, Schaeffer's mother, Danna Schaeffer, shouted: "Have a nice life! Have a good time in jail!"
Bardo did not respond.
Conviction of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of lying in wait carries a penalty of life without parole. Sentencing was set for Nov. 22.
Bardo admitted shooting the actress. But defense attorney Stephen Galindo argued that Bardo was guilty of not more than second-degree murder because he was too mentally ill to have planned the slaying. Galindo said he would appeal.
Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark said Bardo wanted to gain fame as a celebrity killer.
She attacked the defense testimony of psychiatrist Dr. Park Elliott Dietz, who concluded that Bardo was schizophrenic, and cited letters written by Bardo that showed a plan to kill the actress when his love turned into hate.
Dietz, who has studied celebrity assailants and who examined Bardo, said that he was a "very sick young man" who was influenced by the song "Exit" by the rock group U2. The song included the words "pistol weighing heavy."
Bardo, who had sat motionless through the trial, sprang to life, grinned, bobbed to the music and mouthed the lyrics when the song was played in court.
Dietz testified that Bardo tried to emulate Mark David Chapman, who shot and killed John Lennon.