New Bedford man convicted in fatal hammer attack


FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) - A New Bedford man has been convicted of fatally beating another man with a hammer during a robbery, stealing the victim's car, and fleeing to Connecticut.

Thomas Gardner was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder for the November 2011 death of Michael Duarte.
Sentencing is Wednesday. A first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
The men met at a city home Duarte was interested in buying. The house was owned by Gardner's ex-wife, and he was staying there in violation of a restraining order.
Prosecutors say Gardner beat Duarte with a hammer and stole money, a cellphone, and his car.
Gardner was arrested days later in Westport, Conn., after a high-speed police chase.
Gardner's lawyer says the slaying was self-defense during a botched drug deal.