There were tears of joy and relief from Umi Southworth's friends but no reaction from the accused, when the judge read the verdict Friday afternoon. The jury found Donald Southworth guilty of brutally beating his wife and leaving her for dead in the backyard of the couple's Meadowthorpe apartment in June 2010. Umi's friends reacted to the verdict.
"I'm happy but I wish Umi was still here," says friend Yeppy Hartuti.
It took the jury barely three hours to reach a verdict which surprised prosecutor Ray Larson.
"Typically, a jury will last or stay out an equivalent amount, not for 2 weeks, but they'll stay out awhile if there's a lot of proof," says Larson.
And it took the jury less than 15 minutes to recommend a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for 20 years. During the two-week trial, the Commonwealth presented more than 200 pieces of evidence and called almost 60 witnesses, including the couple's own 14-year-old daughter. The defense only called one witness. Southworth didn't testify, but edited police interviews with him were played in court. Prosecutors said Southworth implicated himself in those interviews. As Larson put it, "innocent people don't act guilty." The defense claimed there was no DNA evidence directly linking Southworth to the crime. But, the Commonwealth says it was the circumstantial evidence that helped the jury reach a guilty verdict.
"He used items from inside of his house to try to basically set up the crime scene. I think we were able, to the satisfaction of the jury, to show that," explains Larson.
Hartuti says while nothing will bring Umi back, the jury's verdict does bring her some peace. She says Umi will never be forgotten.
"I can't say good enough about her, that's all, wonderful person and mother," comments Hartuti.
The defense says Southworth will likely file an appeal, which is typical in this type of case. He will be sentenced on February 24th.