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Murder for pills: Man found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder

Photo: Derrick Thompson

Photo source: WEAR-TV

It took the jury 3.5 hours to find Derrick Thompson guilty on two charges of first-degree murder.

Thompson is convicted of murdering Steven and Debra Zackowski in 2014. Thompson allegedly worked as an electrician for the Zackowskis, who paid him in pain pills. After a disagreement over how many pills were to be paid for his services, Thompson killed the couple and stole about 35 pills from a safe inside their home.

During closing arguments Thursday, Assistant State Attorney John Molchan showed the jury the murder weapon, a Cobra .380. Arguing the murders were premeditated, Molchan cited the receipt, which showed Thompson bought the gun on a Friday and killed the Zackowskis the next day. Molchan also showed photos of the crime scene and the deceased victims, as well as DNA evidence and autopsy reports.

Describing the murders as "quick and impulsive", Defense Attorney Martin Lester argues the murders were not premeditated. He said Thompson wanted to foster a relationship with the Zackowskis in order to have a steady supply of pain pills, adding an altercation between Thompson and Steven Zackowski is what really led to the murders.

A first degree murder conviction carries a sentence of life without parole or the possibility of the death penalty. Thompson's sentence hearing will take place Wednesday, December 13 at 9 a.m.

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