Scott Kologi is a teen killer from New Jersey who has just been found guilty of four murders. According to court documents Scott Kologi would murder his parents, sister and a family friend. According to police records Scott Kologi would fatally shoot Linda Kologi, 44, father Steven Kologi Sr., 42, sister, Brittany, 18, and Mary Shulz, 70 on New Years Eve 2017 inside of the New Jersey home. His lawyers attempted to put up a defense saying the teen killer suffered from years of mental abuse however the jury was not buying it. Scott Kologi will be sentenced at a later date
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A Monmouth County jury Thursday found Scott Kologi guilty of the murders of three family members and a close family friend in the family’s Long Branch home minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve 2017.
The jury rejected arguments by defense attorneys that Kologi was insane when, at age 16, he used his older brother’s assault rifle to shoot and kill his mother, Linda Kologi, 44; father, Steven Kologi Sr., 42; sister, Brittany, 18; and Mary Shulz, 70, the longtime girlfriend of his grandfather whom he regarded as a grandmother, as the family gathered to celebrate the holiday.
Kologi, wearing a mask and seated behind a plexiglass partition in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Marc C. LeMieux, looked downward toward his lap as the jury foreman announced the panel’s verdict. The defendant, now 20, did not appear to show any emotion.
“His reaction is confirmation of his mental challenges, which is, he is incapable of understanding the gravity of what happened, which is heartbreaking to see,” said Richard Lomurro, one of Kologi’s defense attorneys.
While Lomurro said he is disappointed in the verdict, he added, “This is a case that needed to be tried, and a jury needed to make this case a lesson about mental health, gun safety and open minds, making sure people get mental health treatment before this happens.”
Lomurro and defense attorney Emeka Nkwuo argued during the trial that their client told family members he was having uncontrollable thoughts about hurting them in the months leading up to the killings, and that he begged his family for help, but his pleas were ignored. The defense attorneys argued that Kologi’s mental illness got progressively worse to the point where he was taken over by a psychotic episode when the killings occurred.
Caitlin Sidley and Sean Brennan, assistant Monmouth County prosecutors, argued Kologi knew exactly what he was doing and knew it was wrong when he loaded each of 30 bullets into magazines for the assault rifle and then pulled the rifle’s trigger 14 times while aiming at family members, hitting his mark 12 of the 14 times.
The jury began deliberating about 9:30 a.m. Thursday, About an hour and 15 minutes after returning from an hourlong lunch break, the panel indicated it had reached a verdict.
The verdict was announced about 3 p.m.
In addition to finding Kologi guilty of the murder, the jury convicted him of possessing a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
The defendant could face four life prison terms for the murders. LeMieux scheduled sentencing for June 30.
The trial began Feb. 9 and, because spectators were not allowed into the courtroom due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was broadcast live on the New Jersey judiciary’s website, njcourts.gov.
Although Kologi was a minor when the killings occurred, he was tried as an adult because of the seriousness of the offenses.
Whether the defendant committed the killings was never in question. Within hours of the massacre, Kologi gave a detailed account to detectives, telling them he took his brother’s assault rifle, loaded a total of 30 bullets into two magazines and turned out the lights in his room so his mother wouldn’t see him when she came to look for him minutes before midnight.
When she did, Kologi told the detectives he shot her five to seven times in the chest and torso, and then shot his father in the back when he came upstairs to see what was going on.
After shooting his parents, Kologi said he went downstairs and pumped four bullets into Shulz before turning the gun on his sister and shooting her three times in the chest and head.
The jury viewed a videotape of Kologi’s confession during the trial. Kologi did not testify.
In the videotaped confession, Kologi told detectives about experiencing bizarre hallucinations since he was a child. He said he felt like he was watching a movie as he was killing his family members, something a psychologist testifying for the defense said was indicative of his being in a dissociative state at the time of the shootings. The psychologist, Maureen Santina, testified that Kologi is schizophrenic and was experiencing a psychotic episode during the killings.
Dr. Park Dietz, a California psychiatrist nationally renowned for performing evaluations on notorious criminals such as serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski, testified for the state and rebutted Santina’s opinion. Dietz testified that Kologi is autistic, not schizophrenic, and knew what he was doing when he killed his family members.
Witnesses testified at the trial that the close-knit family was preparing to ring in the new year and that Linda Kologi was handing out party favors minutes before she went upstairs to look for Scott and was fatally shot.
Steven Kologi Jr. testified his father ran upstairs, and then he saw Scott walk down the stairs calmly with the assault rifle on his hip and proceed to the kitchen, where he shot his sister and Shulz.
Rafaella Bontempo, Steven Jr.’s girlfriend at the time, testified that she hid behind a refrigerator in the kitchen as she called 911.
In his confession, Scott Kologi told Andrea Tozzi, a detective from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, and Long Branch Detective Michael Verdadeiro that he snapped out of his daze and stopped shooting when he saw his grandfather, Adrian Kologi, fall to his knees upon witnessing Shulz, his longtime partner, being shot. He told detectives he spared his grandfather’s life and went upstairs to wait for the police to come.