CAMBRIDGE — As she watched a jury convict Ayer twins Daniel and Peter McGuane of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal beating her 19-year-old son, Karol Proctor touched the thing that symbolized her son’s spirit — his high school ring.
The 2004 Nashoba Valley Technical High School ring was a symbol of Kelly Proctor, bearing his three sports insignias — track, football and basketball — around a blue gem with his nickname, “Dr. Proctor,” inscribed on it.
After a two-week trial and more than a day of deliberation, a Middlesex Superior Court jury found the 23-year-old Ayer twins guilty of involuntary manslaughter with “wanton and reckless conduct and battery” for the 30-second fight during the Ayer fireworks festivities on July 2, 2005, that cost Proctor his life and could send the twins to prison.
The twins face sentences from probation to up to 20 years in state prison. They have already spent nearly two years in jail awaiting trial. Their sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 20.
After the verdict, the Proctor family left the courtroom without comment, escorted by court officers. The McGuanes left minutes later, also declining to comment.
Defense attorney Stephanie Page, who represents Peter, said the twins are “very shook up” by the verdict.
Attorney Edward Ryan, who defended Daniel, said the verdict shows the jury set aside emotions in the case and believed the twins never intended to kill anyone.
The trial was mired in controversy after the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office last month was forced to reduce the charges to manslaughter from first-degree murder after a botched autopsy report from state Medical Examiner Dr. William Zane.
Zane initially ruled that Proctor had brain swelling and bleeding due to blunt-force trauma after being severely beaten by the McGuanes. But a neuropathologist from the medical examiner’s office contradicted Zane’s results, testifying she found no swelling or bleeding and could only suggest the cause of death was a fatal concussion.
Zane admitted on the stand that he had made a mistake.
Ryan noted that from the beginning, he has said that this is an involuntary manslaughter case at best. The “colossal missteps” by the medical examiner left more questions than answers, he said.
“We still don’t believe the cause of death has been proven,” Ryan said.
The botched autopsy report by Zane, along with pretrial publicity and possible errors in jury instructions by Judge Diane Kottmyer, are all possible grounds for an appeal, Ryan said. Both lawyers said they will appeal.
Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone Jr. said, “We said from day one — these defendants were responsible for killing Kelly Proctor — a healthy young man at the height of his life with everything to live for.”
The flaws in the autopsy report “injected a very disappointing twist” in the case, said Leone. Given that problem, Leone admitted his office made the decision that the “strongest and best possible case was manslaughter and not murder.”
But despite the “twists and turns,” he said, the focus has always been about Kelly Proctor.
The verdicts are proof that the McGuanes are responsible for Proctor’s death, he said.
“He was killed because these two defendants set upon him,” said Leone.
Page said the twins are “very remorseful” about Proctor’s death and “would do anything to bring him back. These young men feel horrible.”
“They are always mindful of what this 30-second (fight) cost them,” she said.