PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The man accused of killing his ex-wife in a 14-year-old cold case was found guilty by a jury Friday afternoon.

Mary Michael, the mother of Melissa Groot, who was stabbed to death in Bethel Park in 1999 had an emotional reaction to news that her daughter’s ex-husband, John Minch, was convicted of first-degree murder in her daughter’s death.

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A hair discovered years later linked Minch to the murder, according to prosecutors. Minch claimed he was the victim of a conspiracy. The jury disagreed, taking only two hours to reach a verdict.

“I’m thrilled; absolutely thrilled. What people don’t realize is this man has tormented us for almost 30 years. And to just have it over, I feel like that they removed the world from my shoulders,” Michael said.

Listening to the testimony, and watching Minch represent himself, was sometimes too much.

“It was horrible. Absolutely horrible. The things that were said were so distorted, we’re such lies, we’re so unkind, and to have to sit there and listen to people that I loved torn apart. It was awful. I can’t even tell you the heartbreak,” said Michael. “But I want you to know I have my daughter’s necklace on and I’ve had this on since the beginning of the trial. And I know she’s up there and I know she heard every bit.”

“I picture my daughter, Missy, as a beautiful 29-year-old girl with flowing red hair, a pretty smile; and to have to have details of what she looked like in her last minutes go over, it was horrible because I really didn’t know all the details. That was very hard, and I actually think some of this was done on purpose from him.”

Michael and her husband, Frank, have adopted the girl whose parents are the victim and defendant.

“She is the most wonderful girl in the world. And even though John Minch brought me so much pain over the years, he has done one thing right, and that was help create Katie,” says Michael.

When asked whether this verdict brings closure, she replied, “There is no such word. She’ll always be in our hearts. She’ll always be there on holidays, she’ll always be with me, but I feel now that she has justice.”

Minch’s standby lawyer, appointed to help him, says representing yourself isn’t a good idea.

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“This is a perfect example. You’re not equipped to do it emotionally; you’re not equipped to do it professionally. You don’t know the intricacies of how trials work,” said Matt Dugan, the standby defense attorney. “There are so many dangers to it. He certainly suffered because of that.”

The judge gave the jury instruction in the law after closing arguments wrapped up late Friday morning.

Groot was killed on the same day a hearing was scheduled during a contentious divorce between the two.

Minch told the jury the prosecution has been involved in a conspiracy against him.

He told the jury the parents of the victim testified against him because they have a vendetta against him.

“They hate me,” he said. “They’ve hated me from the beginning. I was never good enough. But the man she marries after me cheats on her and pays for strippers.”

Then, pointing to the prosecution’s case, told the jury, “Don’t buy it.”

Prosecutor Lisa Pellegrini, though, moved close to the defendant, pointing at him.

“There’s your real killer,” she said. “He’s sitting right there. He lied in wait for her. He planned it. And he finally exacted revenge.”

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Trial Begins For Man Accused In 14-Year-Old Murder Case (11/6/13)
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