Man Pleas No Contest To Wife's Murder

A plea agreement was reached Monday with a seventy year old man accused of murdering his wife.   Vertice Oliphant of Hemphill pleaded 'no contest' for the August 10, 2005 murder of his 65 year old wife Ella Oliphant. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Mrs Oliphant's body was found in some brush on Highway 21, east of Chireno. Oliphant is believed to have stabbed his wife 17 times, dumped her body and fled. Evidence included his bloody clothes and car. Also DNA on a knife matched that of Mrs Oliphant's. The couple was driving from Hemphill to nacogdoches when an argument occurred. It's uncertain over exactly what.

Investigators say Oliphant was known for his anger spells. He was declared competent to stand trial. Upon his family's urging, Oliphant agreed to plea 'no contest'.  That means there's no admission of guilt, but also no claim of innocence. His attorney, John Heath Jr. said, 'It was a practical resolution to a terrible set of circumstances. " District Attorney Stephanie Stephens said she was pleased with the plea given the violent nature of the crime. " He is safe and better yet, his family is safe," said Stephens. Oliphant will be eligible for parole in 12 1/2 years.