BEAUMONT, TX (News Release) - By Morgan Thomas - email
NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - A jury sentenced a Nacogdoches man to life in prison on the same day they found him guilty of murdering his wife.
The jury handed down the sentence after deliberating less than an hour. The jury also deliberated the verdict for less than an hour.
John Presley, who was accused of killing his wife, Stephanie Fowler Presley, will be eligible for parole in 30 years. He must also pay a $10,000 fine.
The sentence was the maximum punishment jurors could give Presley for a first-degree murder charge.
Coming to an end was Nacogdoches County Assistant District Attorney Ryan Chambers' first murder trial. Although he was confident with his case, he says that didn't make it easy.
"Really the gruesome nature of the crime," Chambers said. "Having to deal with autopsy photos, things like that."
For prosecution witness and Presley's then-girlfriend, Charlotte Mallow, some of it was shocking.
"It's been very confusing," she said. "It's sad because I loved him. And afraid because I had no ideas of some of the things he was capable of."
If the jury thought the testimony during the trial was tough to hear, the most heart-wrenching came when Stephanie's father took the stand during sentencing."
Sid Fowler described his emotions as an extreme mixture of grief and revenge for his daughter's murder, revealing why she will be missed forever.
"Friends told me life without the chance to know Stephanie would not have been as good a life," he said.
"I understand it's the maximum penalty for this crime," Fowler said. "I wish it would bring her back."
Presley's former girlfriend says she apologized to Stephanie's parents and she said she is remorseful for the part she played in their daughter's death.
"So we were very angry with each other and didn't like each other but I would never ever wanted something to happen to her," Mallow said. "For her to be hurt."
Hugging his sons very tight, Fowler said he won't miss another opportunity to hug his children.
Before the jury deliberated the verdict, Bill Agnew kicked off the defense's closing arguments trying to show John Presley had no reason to kill Stephanie.
"Why would he do that? The state witnesses told you that Stephanie was the best thing that ever happened to him. You got a man that does whatever he does – women, alcohol, drugs – and he could always go back to her," said Agnew.
Calling Stephanie his "golden goose," Agnew asked the jury what he would gain by killing her.
During the prosecution's turn for closing statements, Assistant District Attorney Ryan Chambers reminded the jury of inconsistencies in John Presley's story during his testimony.
"If this was an accident why was her leg broken in such a brutal fashion?" asked Chambers.
He also told the jurors that he did not have to provide evidence on why Presley killed his wife Stephanie, that he just had to prove that he intentionally and knowingly took her life when he shot the handgun.
"I don't have to prove motive because sometimes we just don't know why people do the things they do," said Chambers.