Caleb “Kai” McGillvary, former Humboldt County resident and internet sensation, has been convicted of murder in the beating death of a 73-year-old New Jersey lawyer.

McGillvary rocketed to fame in February 2013, after a Fresno-area TV reporter interviewed him at the scene of a crime. An ebullient McGillvary — who refused to give his last name — told the story of how he had been picked up hitchhiking when the driver of the vehicle drove into a pedestrian then attacked a woman, at which point McGillvary retrieved a hatchet from his backpack and intervened.

“Smash, smash, suh-mash!” McGillvary said.

The reporter posted the clip on YouTube, and McGillvary, who was based in Arcata at the time, became a viral star. Everyone was captivated by “Kai the Homefree Hitchhiker”s naif enthusiasm and his seeming bravery, along with his very California- or even Humboldt-centric presentation. The Gregory Brothers did a remix and Jimmy Kimmel had both McGillvary and the reporter on his show

However, only three months later, on the other side of the country, McGillvary was arrested for the murder of Joseph Galfy, the 73-year-old Elizabeth, New Jersey lawyer who had offered him a place to stay for a couple of nights. McGillvary claimed that Galfy had tried to force himself on him, and that he was only defending himself. Police said they believed that the two had a consensual sexual encounter that later turned violent.

It took nearly six years for the case to go to trial, and the verdict — first-degree murder — came back only this morning. A Facebook fan page that has some 17,500 likes claims that he will appeal the decision: