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ALLISON --- Mark Becker stood quietly as he learned a jury had convicted him for first-degree murder Tuesday morning.

His eyes glanced back and forth, and his chin moved slightly as he heard the verdict at about 10:49 a.m.

Family members of his victim, Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas, also listened quietly. Some dabbed at tears as they filed out of the courtroom.

Todd Thomas, Ed Thomas' son, said the family is extremely relieved by the verdict.

While he said justice had been served, he noted there were no winners in the case. No verdict will ever replace his father, he said.

"We're all trying to cope and deal with the tragedy," Todd Thomas said.

His brother, Aaron Thomas, thanked the community, law enforcement and the student witnesses who testified during the trial.

Prosecutors said they were pleased with the verdict.

"We were confident in our case and how it was presented," said Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown.

Authorities said Becker, 24, shot and killed Ed Thomas in the Aplington-Parkersburg High weight room on June 24. The defense didn't dispute that Becker was the gunman but said he was insane at the time of the crime, and the jury was tasked with deciding his sanity.

Mark Becker's mother, Joan Becker, said her son would have never taken the life of another person in his sane mind. She said her family had tried to get help for Mark but the system "failed miserably."

She said Ed Thomas was the "victim of a victim."

Public Defender Susan Flander said the case will be appealed.

Jurors began deliberations at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday following closing arguments.

After two notes that described stalemates, the jury returned at 9 a.m. today and at 9:38 a.m. announced they had reached a verdict.

The actual decision was read shortly before 11 a.m. Court officials waited to allow members of Thomas' family to return from Des Moines where they were testifying in support of a bill that would require hospitals to notify law enforcement when suspects are released from care.

Becker had been committed to a mental health unit following a high-speed police chase. He was released to a counselor and killed Thomas the following day.

A first-degree murder conviction is punishable by a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Sentencing will be April 14.

The defense had argued Becker, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, was insane at the time of the crime and wasn't able to know the nature of his actions or distinguish right from wrong.

The prosecution said Becker's mental illness didn't equate with insanity at the time of the shooting. The state said he methodically planned the killing and made the choice to take Thomas' life.

Testimony in the case began Feb. 12, and during the state's case, jurors heard from students who watched the shooting unfold and from authorities who took Becker into custody and questioned him.

Becker told an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent that he opened fire on Thomas because he believed the coach was a "devil tyrant" who oppressed children, turned people into animals and fish and was harassing him through ESP.

On the issue of motive, Brown said Becker also briefly talked of a "deep-seated animosity" toward the coach during his DCI interview.

Jurors also heard from family members about Becker's earlier psychotic episodes and three mental health hospitalizations.

In addition to first-degree murder and not guilty by reason of insanity, jurors could have convicted Becker on second-degree murder, attempted murder, willful injury causing serious injury, assault with intent to cause serious or bodily injury and simple assault.

Earlier story:

ALLISON --- Mark Becker has been found guilty in the June 24 shooting death of Coach Ed Thomas.

Jurors began deliberations at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday following closing arguments. After going home for the night, they returned at 9 a.m. today and at 10:49 a.m. announced they found Becker guilty of first-degree murder in the slaying at the Aplington-Parkersburg High School weight room.

A first-degree murder conviction is punishable by a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Sentencing will be at a later date.

The defense had argued Becker, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, was insane at the time of the crime and wasn't able to know the nature of his actions or distinguish right from wrong.

The prosecution said Becker's mental illness didn't equate with insanity at the time of the shooting. The state said he methodically planned the killing and made the choice to take Thomas' life.

Testimony in the case began Feb. 12, and during the state's case, jurors heard from students who watched the shooting unfold and from authorities who took Becker into custody and questioned him.

Becker told an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent that he opened fire on Thomas because he believed the coach was a "devil tyrant" who oppressed children, turned people into animals and fish and was harassing him through ESP.

On the issue of motive, Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown said Becker also briefly talked of a "deep-seated animosity" toward the coach during his DCI interview.

Jurors also heard from family members about Becker's earlier psychotic episodes and three mental health hospitalizations, the most recent of which ended the day before the slaying.

In addition to first-degree murder and not guilty by reason of insanity, jurors could have convicted Becker on second-degree murder, attempted murder, willful injury causing serious injury, assault with intent to cause serious or bodily injury and simple assault.

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