Sunday, September 14, 2008

Man who blamed devil for slaying of estranged wife sentenced to 99 years in prison

Arlington man gets 99 years for slaying


FORT WORTH — An Arlington man who told jurors that the devil made him gun down his estranged wife in the driveway of her home was sentenced Thursday to 99 years in prison.

A Tarrant County jury had deliberated just 15 minutes Wednesday before convicting Wayne Edgar Edwards of murder in the Jan. 4 death of Deborah Edwards, 46, with whom he had four daughters.

The jury of seven men and five women deliberated about an hour and a half Thursday before recommending the prison term for Edwards, 49.

As required by law, the sentence was then imposed by 213th state District Judge Louis Sturns.
Prosecutor Christy Dunn said Edwards’ daughters were pleased with the sentence.

"The girls will have some peace now. They’ll be able to sleep at night," she said, referring to their anxiety during the years that Edwards abused his wife, which resulted in a 2003 assault conviction.
Rambling testimony

During the sentencing phase of the trial Thursday, Edwards began sobbing loudly as a friend testified, prompting Sturns to send the jury out of the courtroom.

"You’ve got to get yourself under control," Sturns admonished Edwards. "We can’t record testimony."

Edwards replied: "I’m not doing it deliberately. I’m in God’s hands, your honor. I don’t mean to disrupt the court."

Later, Edwards took the stand where he gave rambling testimony about his life with his wife and daughters and how demonic forces led him to kill his wife.

"I didn’t come here to try get out of anything," he said. "You already know I killed my wife, but it was Satan that did it to me.
"The devil took me and did what he did."

But, he said, "That Wayne is gone." Edwards said he has now "submitted to God and the Holy Spirit. They came to me in the jail."

When questioned by Dunn about the effect of his actions on his family, Edwards acknowledged that his daughters were "devastated" by the loss of their mother.

"And it looks like they’ll have to go on without me, too," he said.

Both Dunn and Edwards’ attorney, David Jones, said that jurors may have given Edwards the long sentence because of his own testimony.

"Mr. Edwards was adamant that he wanted to get on the stand and tell jurors the reason he believed this all happened," Jones said. "Obviously they didn’t think his explanation was good enough."

Daughters on stand

State witnesses included the couple’s oldest daughters, Brittany Edwards, 21, and Tiffany Edwards, 19.

Brittany Edwards testified that her mother worked as a registered nurse and nurse practitioner in Dallas and Arlington to pay college tuition for her two oldest daughters and support her younger girls. The couple had separated several times, including a period in 2002 and 2003 when Wayne Edwards spent 30 days in jail for assaulting his wife and Deborah Edwards spent two weeks in a women’s shelter, according to testimony. She filed for divorce in 2002 but did not pursue the petition.

But Deborah Edwards had refused to let her estranged husband move into the home on Quail Meadows Lane where she and her daughters had lived for three years.

The night she was shot, Brittany Edwards testified, her mother called her daughters to say she was pulling into the driveway and her husband was standing outside. She warned them to lock the doors.

Minutes later, Brittany Edwards said, her younger sister heard gunshots. At least three shots were fired before Wayne Edwards drove away, police said. The children rushed outside to find their mother bleeding inside her car.

Following a witness tip that a man drove away in a dark-colored red Chevrolet shortly after the shooting, Arlington police arrested Edwards near the Homestead Suites on North Watson Road, where he had been registered.

Because Edwards used a deadly weapon in the crime, he’ll have to serve at least half of the 99-year prison term. The jury also assessed a $10,000 fine.

MARTHA DELLER, 817-390-7857

No comments: