Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder by the Book: The Amy St. Laurent Case

Guilty As Charged

Jeffrey "Russ" Gorman
Jeffrey "Russ" Gorman

The reluctant mother was called to the witness stand by prosecutor Stokes on the third day of the trial. It was a painful performance. The jury listened to the recording of Westbrook admitting through tears that her flesh and blood was a killer. "He said, 'OK, Mom, I will tell you what happened. I did it,'" Westbrook said. Sobbing, the woman went on to explain that her son said he imagined that he was killing her, not Amy St. Laurent, was he "snapped" that morning.

Re-enactment of Trial Testimony
Re-enactment of Trial Testimony

"I said, why, why, I love you?" Westbrook said on the recording. "I've always loved you. He said, 'I love you too, mom.' Then she added, "I'll never forget it as long as I live." Yet somehow she had, between the grand jury testimony on Feb. 8, 2002, and her trial appearance that day, Jan. 15, 2003.

Stokes was incredulous, and the jurorscommon sense New Englandersappeared to agree. The trial was efficiently brief, and Gorman did not testify. The jury returned a guilty verdict. Judge Mills handed down a sentence of 60 years in prison; Maine does not have the death penalty.

A year later, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court considered Gorman's appeal, based on the playing of his mother's recorded grand jury testimony. Tammy Westbrook sat in the gallery, reading the Bible. She told a reporter, "My son is innocent. In my heart, he is a good boy. This is in the Lord's hands now."

Her prayers were not answered. The high court justices let the conviction stand.

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