MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A judge parted with a jury's death sentence recommendation and sentenced convicted murderer Michael Berry to life without parole.
In 2010, Berry shot and killed his estranged wife Wendy Stevens while she was at in ATM in west Mobile. Her four children were with her and witnessed her death.
After reviewing a number of cases, Judge Michael Youngpeter said the one aggravating factor presented in this case did not apply.
"All murders are heinous, atrocious and cruel. It has to be exceptionally so to be a capitol aggravator. And it just was not present in this case," said Defense Attorney Ashley Cameron.
The prosecution lead by District Attorney Ashley Rich argued the aggravating factor, that Stevens' death was especially heinous atrocious and cruel as compared to other capital murder cases, did apply. She said she was disappointed by the judge's decision.
"A mother trying to protect her children at all cost; trying, struggling to get away from the man that was shooting her over and over and over again. There is nothing more torturous, more conscious-less, more pitiless. That ladies and gentleman is heinous, atrocious and cruel," said Rich.
Stevens' friends said they will move on. But in their eyes, this case will never close.
"Life is very short. Life could end for any of us in a moment we have to make the best of everyday enjoy our life, enjoy our families and try to stay away from people like Michael Berry," said Roberta Odom.
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