Jury Recommends Life Sentence for Donald Southworth

Reported by: Christine Winter
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Updated: 1/20/2012 8:12 pm
A crowded courtroom watched a Lexington jury recommend a life sentence for Donald Southworth Friday after just 15 minutes of deliberating.

That same jury spent 3 hours deciding that Southworth killed his wife Umi in 2010.

DA Ray Larson says he didn't expect jurors to come back with a verdict so quickly.

Southworth did not react to the guilty verdict or the recommendation of life in prison.

The news came after a morning of passionate closing arguments.

Defense Attorney Tucker Richardson told the court that the Commonwealth's case did not deserve a guilty verdict.

He said the evidence did not point to Southworth and criticized investigators for not pursuing other leads.

"Police officers the whole time are focusing in on Don Southworth. He's the sole suspect," said Richardson.

He also questioned testimony from some of the prosecution's witnesses.

Richardson said, "(Detective) Bill Brislin gets in there and says DNA will tell the truth. It does! It certainly does- it proves Don Southworth didn't do it."

Meanwhile Larson painted Southworth as a desperate man and told jurors, "This is the story of a very manipulative, weird..control freak."

Larson spoke of Southworth's relationship and said, "Remember how he said he bought her for $10,000? And he taped her conversations. He threatened use of a scanner- he checked her odometer."

Umi and the couple's daughter Almira had a new home in Nashville.

And prosecutors said Southworth knew Umi was leaving and taking his meal ticket.

"Finally Umi had had enough! She wanted to get away from this guy and everyone around her knew it," said Larson.

The Commonwealth also told jurors that innocent people do not act guilty.

Southworth is set to be sentenced on February 24th.

His defense says he'll likely appeal the verdict.

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