A Lancaster man was convicted of attempted murder Thursday and faces up to life in prison for attacking a moviegoer with a digital thermometer.
A jury convicted Landry Boullard, 40, of premeditated attempted murder in the February assault, which attracted widespread attention because of the motive and the weapon. The victim had asked Boullard's female companion to stop talking on a cellphone during a movie.
The incident occurred at a Lancaster multiplex during a screening of "Shutter Island." Witnesses testified that Boullard and his companion had been talking throughout the film, disturbing several people, when the woman's cellphone rang and she began a conversation, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Sherwood, who prosecuted the case.
"The victim asked the female to stop using the cellphone," Sherwood said. Another woman seated nearby "said the victim was rather polite when he said it, nicer than he needed to be."
But words were exchanged and Boullard stormed out, returning to stab the victim with a thermometer. A friend of the victim and a stranger leaped to his aid. Boullard fled.
The brief assault was brutal.
The digital thermometer punctured the neck of the victim, a 27-year-old man who was with his fiancee. He also sustained blows to the head, causing bleeding in the brain that resulted in a coma. He nearly died and remained hospitalized for five weeks. He continues to suffer from blurred vision in his right eye and other medical problems.
The two men who tried to help suffered minor puncture wounds.
Boullard, who admitted to four previous felonies, ultimately was convicted on other charges related to the attack and for illegally possessing a firearm, said Shiara Davila-Morales of the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
Five witnesses identified Boullard, Sherwood said. Boullard's attorney had argued during the trial that his client may have meant to fight but not to inflict harm, Sherwood said.
Boullard's attorney could not be reached for comment.
The jury deliberated for 2 1/2 hours before returning the verdict.
"When we read the paper and see people killed because of their race, their religion or being cut off on the freeway or for wearing the wrong colors, is it really a surprise that we see an attempt to kill someone over being asked to turn off a cellphone?" Sherwood said. "We've all had enough of this blatant disregard for decency: You can't go to a movie theater without worrying about saying the wrong thing to the wrong person and being stuck with a thermometer in your neck."
Sentencing is scheduled for January in Superior Court in Lancaster.