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Jury Finds Man Guilty in Shootings at Fairview Center

August 12, 1993|RENE LYNCH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — A jury that deliberated only two hours Wednesday found a former Long Beach painter guilty of killing his supervisor and wounding two others in a bloody rampage at the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa.

Michael Rahming, 39, described by prosecutors as a "disgruntled employee who decided to take matters into his own hands," sat quietly Wednesday as the jury wasted little time rejecting the claim that he was insane and declared him guilty of one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.

Michael Estrada, senior special investigator at Fairview, said officials there have not yet forgotten the shooting spree but are pleased with the outcome of the trial, which was repeatedly delayed because of changes in defense attorneys and court-ordered psychiatric evaluations.

"We're relieved," Estrada said. "This shows that the system works. We feel that justice has been done."

"I think the jury returned the proper verdicts," Deputy Dist. Atty. Randolph J. Pawloski added after the verdicts were announced.

Rahming was working as a painter at the facility for the developmentally disabled when he opened fire on July 30, 1991, in a coffee-break room and sent terrified workers running for cover.

Rahming shot and wounded one of his supervisors, James H. Pichon, 38, in the head, then chased down and killed supervisor Allen R. Motis, 53.

Rahming aimed his weapon at another man, but the gun misfired. He then calmly climbed into his truck, drove about a mile to another office and shot and wounded supervisor Hugh Kohler, 45. A short time later, he quietly surrendered.

Rahming faces at least three life terms plus an additional 14 years in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 3 by Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert R. Fitzgerald.

During the trial, neither side disputed whether Rahming was responsible for the slayings; his attorney, in fact, conceded that Rahming had committed them. But in closing arguments, defense attorney Michael J. Naughton told jurors Tuesday that his client suffered from paranoid delusions and was "bedeviled by the ghost between his ears."

But jurors, who could not be reached for comment, rejected claims by Naughton that Rahming was insane at the time of the shootings. Naughton asked jurors to find his client not guilty by reason of insanity, a determination that would have sent Rahming to a state mental hospital until authorities decided he was no longer a threat to himself or others.

Rahming had a troubled history at the facility and had filed numerous complaints claiming that he suffered discrimination because he is African-American.

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