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Mich. jury: Man guilty of firing gun along I-96

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Raulie Wayne Casteel, the Wixom man accused of shooting at 23 motorists along the Interstate 96 corridor in October 2012, testifies Monday Jan. 27, 2014, in Livingston County Circuit Court in Howell, Mich. If convicted as charged of terrorism, he faces life in prison. (AP Photo/Daily Press & Argus, Lisa Roose-Church)

Raulie Wayne Casteel, the Wixom man accused of shooting at 23 motorists along the Interstate 96 corridor in October 2012, testifies Monday Jan. 27, 2014, in Livingston County Circuit Court in Howell, Mich. If convicted as charged of terrorism, he faces life in prison. (AP Photo/Daily Press & Argus, Lisa Roose-Church)

This Jan. 16, 2014 photo, I-96 shooting suspect Raulie Wayne Casteel looks to his family with defense attorney Charles Groh next to him as he exits the courtroom in Howell, Mich. Casteel is expected to testify in his own defense on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. Casteel is contesting terrorism and assault charges in connection with the two dozen shootings in October 2012. Police say they matched his gun to bullet fragments recovered from victims’ vehicles in four counties. (AP Photo/Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, Lisa Roose-Church)

FILE – A Nov. 7, 2012 file photo provided by the Livingston County Sheriff, shows Raulie Casteel. A jury has been seated for Casteel who is charged with a series of shootings in 2012 on and off Interstate 96 in Michigan. Jury selection wrapped on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 in Livingston County Circuit Court in Howell. The state attorney general’s office is prosecuting him on terrorism and other charges. (AP Photo/Livingston County Sheriff’s Department)

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HOWELL, Mich. (AP) — A man who said he opened fire on motorists along a busy southeast Michigan highway because he believed they were part of a government conspiracy against him was convicted Wednesday of terrorism, assault and other charges.

A jury deliberated over parts of two days before reaching a verdict against Raulie Casteel, 44, of Wixom. He faces up to life in prison.

Casteel told jurors Monday in Livingston County Circuit Court in Howell that he was filled with fear and anxiety while in traffic, most likely from undiagnosed delusional and paranoid thinking.

During questioning from his lawyer, Charles Groh, the defendant conceded that he fired at cars along the Interstate 96 corridor, but that he “absolutely” did not intend to hurt or terrorize any of the drivers.

“I saw a long line of traffic, felt fear and anxiety and shot,” Casteel testified, describing one of the October 2012 shootings that took place in four counties, forced schoolchildren inside during recess and had the area on edge for weeks.

“I can’t testify to the number, but I did fire at cars, yes,” said Casteel, who added that he kept a handgun on the floorboard near his right leg.

In one instance, Casteel testified that Jennifer Kupiec, who had been tailgating him on I-96 then passed his car on the right, agitated him to the point that he picked up the gun, rolled down the passenger side window and fired at Kupiec’s car.

Under questioning from assistant attorney general Gregory Townsend, Casteel said he never thought about the ramifications of the shootings, only that he wanted “to send a message to back off.”

Casteel contested the terrorism and assault with intent to murder charges, but not firearms charges, in connection with the nearly two dozen shootings. Police said they matched his gun to bullet fragments recovered from victims’ vehicles.

Casteel was the only witness called by the defense.

Last year, Casteel pleaded no contest but mentally ill to assault and firearms charges in Oakland County in connection to related shootings that took place there. He faces up to 12 years in prison when he is sentenced Thursday. A no contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes. The mental illness allows him to get treatment in prison.

Associated Press

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