After more than five hours of deliberating, a jury has found Michael Bever guilty in the deaths of his parents and three siblings in July 2015.
He was also found guilty of assault and battery with intent to kill a surviving sibling.
The jury will now recommend a sentence for Michael Bever. They must choose between life or life without parole.
While in deliberation, the jury sent a note to the judge asking, “Does ‘in concert each with the other’ and ‘being a principal to the crime’ apply to the assault and battery with intent to kill?"
During jury instruction, the jury was told they have to consider Michael Bever a principal in the crimes before they can find him guilty.
The judge said she is going to refer them to instructions they already have and said they have the information they need to answer that question.
The jury heard closing arguments from both sides Wednesday afternoon – one from the prosecution, one from the defense and a final from the prosecution.
The District Attorney’s Office started closing arguments with a quote from Michael Bever’s 2016 jailhouse journal that said, “Once upon a time, there were two brothers named Robert and Michael. They hated their family, so they killed them. The end.”
They said Michael also had drawn a picture of mass killer and cult leader Jim Jones and wrote "my hero" below it.
The prosecution talked about the inconsistencies between older brother Robert's testimony during the trial and his confession to police. They said the jury has to decide whether to believe him or not.
Prosecutors said Michael is the one who started the "murderous rampage" when he distracted the surviving sister so Robert could attack her from behind.
She said there were 141 total stab wounds and five people were dead. She said two people were necessary to complete the quintuple homicide, not one.
Assistant District Attorney Julie Doss told the jury Michael was fully involved in the planning of the murders. She said he gave money to buy the items, gave suggestions and was armed with three knives when he was arrested and that he admitted to stabbing his mother and two younger siblings.
Doss said, “Michael and Robert wanted to be famous. They got it. They got their wish.”
The defense said Michael was a victim of his brother's mental illness with no intervention or help. And to understand what happened that night, one must understand the context of growing up inside that home of near complete isolation.
Bever's attorney, Corbin Brewster, said Michael was 16 going on 10 years old and got caught up in his mentally ill brother's fantasy-turned-reality nightmare.
Brewster also put up a picture of Robert and Michael during his closing argument and said with as violent and bloody as the crime scene was, Michael should have more blood on him. Brewster said the only blood Michael tested positive for was his mother's and his own.
He said Robert, however, was saturated in blood, had it on his face and tested positive for blood from everyone in the family.
Before closing arguments began, the attorneys spent Wednesday morning discussing jury instructions – the law jurors must consider for this specific case.
The defense asked the judge to limit the district attorney's closing arguments to one hour for the first one and 30 minutes for the second one. The judge, however, said she would not set limits for either side.
Bever’s attorney also wanted the judge to instruct the jury on duress, saying Michael Bever acted under duress of his brother Robert the night of the murders.
The judge denied that request.
The defense also asked the judge to include second-degree murder and manslaughter in jury instructions, not just first-degree murder, but the judge said the law did not support that.
Michael Bever’s brother Robert, was also accused in the deaths; he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences without parole.
Robert Bever testified in this trial, saying he was the one that committed the murders. When asked if he saw Michael stab or attack anyone he said he didn’t. Robert said he didn’t know if he ever saw Michael holding a knife.
That testimony, however, contradicted Michael Bever’s confession, which was played during the trial. In that, Michael admitted to police multiple times that he stabbed his mother, April, and his little brother Christopher.
It also contradicted a written statement Robert gave to police after the murders saying “we” planned to kill the family more than once.
In Michael Bever’s confession to police, saying that Robert told him he had a plan to kill the whole family and Michel told police, “I thought it was a great idea, and I agreed to join him.”
Robert said Michael did help him trick the three little siblings – Christopher, Victoria and Daniel - into opening their locked doors, but said he's ultimately the one that killed their siblings.
The surviving sister also took the stand in the trial. She testified in a different room with the judge and attorneys while the testimony was shown on a TV screen in the courtroom with the jury.
The now 16-year-old girl said the day of the murders her family went bowling and came home. She said she remembered walking into her brothers’ room that night around 11:30 and hearing one of them say, “Are we gonna do this now?”
She said Michael distracted her by showing her something on his computer. She said Robert came up behind her, slit her throat and stomach then stabbed her multiple times in the chest, arms and neck. She said she tried to scream and run out of the house but collapsed and was brought back in the house.
The jury also heard a 911 call that came from younger brother Daniel. In it, you hear Daniel’s voice saying his brother is attacking the family. He whispers for help, and then you can hear him say, “No, Michael.” After some scuffling, you can hear Daniel say, “Please don’t murder me,” before Michael’s voice comes on the line and says “hello” before the call disconnects.
The jury will return Thursday, possibly hearing from more witnesses on both sides, before recommending a sentence of either life or life without parole for Michael Bever.