updated 3/16/2007 3:09:25 PM ET 2007-03-16T19:09:25

A judge found a former trash company supervisor guilty Friday of six counts of murder in the deaths of women whose strangled bodies were found around the Kansas City area in 1986 and 1987.

Lorenzo Gilyard, 56, was acquitted of a seventh count of murder.

Sentencing is set for April 13 but the only possible sentence for Gilyard is life in prison. Prosecutors agreed in January not seek the death penalty against him, as long as Gilyard's attorneys agreed to a trial before a judge without a jury.

Relatives and friends of the victims hugged and cried after the verdict.

Defense attorney Susan Elliott declined to comment after the verdict.

Police linked Gilyard's DNA to the deaths of a dozen women — all but one of whom were prostitutes — in April 2004 as crime lab workers tested evidence from old, unsolved cases using a federal grant. A 13th murder count was added last year. But six of the murder counts, including one stemming from the death of an Austrian national, were dropped as the trial got under way, although prosecutors could refile those charges later.

Gilyard was acquitted of killing Angela Mayhew, 19, whose body was found on Sept. 12, 1987. Hers was the only body that didn't contain semen or provide other DNA evidence.

In his ruling, Jackson County District Judge John O'Malley called the cases "obscene insults to our sense of justice, security and freedom."

In acquitting Gilyard on the Mayhew charge, O'Malley said prosecutors had left him only with suspicions about Gilyard's guilt, not convincing proof.

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