updated 12/6/2007 1:29:45 PM ET 2007-12-06T18:29:45

A jury convicted an 81-year-old man of murdering his ex-girlfriend's boss in a shooting at a synagogue two years ago after a Rosh Hashanah service.

The jury deliberated more than four hours Wednesday before convicting Marc Benayer of first-degree murder for Jonathan Samuels' death. Benayer was listening with a hearing device and shook his head slightly as the word guilty was read.

Investigators said Benayer wanted Samuels, 44, and his business partner, Mark Levy, dead because they helped Benayer's ex-girlfriend get a restraining order against him. Samuels was shot as he left Chad Weltman Synagogue near Boca Raton in October 2005. He died in July 2006.

While in jail, Benayer also was charged with trying to hire an undercover sheriff's detective to kill Levy and his former defense attorney.

Benayer's murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Benayer acted as his own lawyer, with help from attorney Christopher Haddad, who asked that Benayer be re-evaluated for mental competency before sentencing. Circuit Judge Richard Wennet scheduled a hearing for Friday on that issue.

Benayer has been diagnosed with dementia, a personality disorder and early onset of Alzheimer's. Several doctors examined him before the trial and declared him competent.

"He's been found guilty. But he's ruined my family, my life, my children's life and everyone else's," widow Caron Samuels said.

Benayer told jurors he accidentally fired the gun.

"My hand was shaking. The bullet went off. I don't know," Benayer said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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