A woman who waited seven years for her daughter's alleged killer to be convicted knew that wasn’t going to happen right before the verdict was read.
"I knew when they walked in the door and the first female juror looked over and smiled at the defendant it was over,” Gale Seaton said. “I almost got up at that point."
She held out hope that the man accused of shooting and killing her pregnant daughter, Stacey, in 2005, would be in prison today, but as of last night, Jarvis Tyler is a free man.
Prior to the not guilty verdict, the State’s Attorney's Office offered a plea deal of 40 years. The defense countered with 30 years -- effectively a 15-year sentence -- but prosecutors couldn't live with that deal.
Instead, Tyler’s free despite DNA evidence from a cigarette butt found at the crime scene that was linked to Tyler almost four years after Stacey’s death.
"Justice comes in many forms. I've been very disappointed in the criminal justice system, but I have many many heroes in this case," Gale Seaton said, referring to people who have helped her get through the process.
Tyler was implicated in the crime by a man who had already pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. McDonald Abraham said he paid Tyler $400 cash and $200 in marijuana to kill Stacey because he believed she'd set him up to be robbed.
Tyler’s defense argued that Abraham cooperated with prosecutors to get a lighter sentence. He faces 15-to-50 years when he is sentenced, which was scheduled for after Tyler’s trial.
"It makes me more determined that he's going to get a stronger sentence," Gale Seaton said.