The man convicted of murder after beating a Little Rock, Ark., TV anchor so severely that he “broke her face like an egg” will spend the rest of his life in prison.
The same jury that convicted 29-year-old Curtis Vance of capital murder, rape and burglary in last year’s attack of KATV newswoman Anne Pressly decided to spare his life after hearing testimony from Pressly’s mother, Vance’s family and doctors and social workers, The Associated Press reports.
Under state law, jurors had to select either the death penalty or a life sentence without possibility of parole, AP writes.
Pressly died Oct. 25, 2008, five days after a brutal assault that crushed her face and left her gasping for air.
Vance's mother testified Thursday that she was an abusive mother, and a doctor said Vance showed signs of paranoia. Pressly's mother told jurors Wednesday what it was like to lose an only child.
After the verdicts were read Wednesday, AP reports, Pressly's mother, Patti Cannady, raised a hand and said, "Praise God. Praise God." She burst into sobs.
Once the jurors had left, Vance gestured toward the empty jury box, pointed to his eyes and ears and shook his head, according to AP.
Pressly, 26, was an anchor at KATV and had a bit part in the President Bush biopic "W." Cannady, unable to reach Pressly by telephone for her daily wake-up call, had found her daughter shortly before she was due for the "Daybreak" program.
In closing arguments, deputy prosecutor John Johnson had recounted graphic testimony that left some in the courtroom in tears. At one point, he held up two photos of Pressly: Her KATV publicity shot, and one from her autopsy showing her nose pushed to one side.
"He made this person look like this," Johnson said. A medical examiner had testified that the front of Pressly's face was broken "like an egg."
"It was just him and her," Johnson told jurors. "Can you imagine that? Him standing over her?
"She feels that fear, that paralyzing fear we've all had nightmares about," Johnson said.
Citing one of Vance's confessions, Johnson said the man lost control after she started to fight him.
"He began to hit her over and over," Johnson said.
Police witnesses said DNA evidence linked Vance to Pressly's death and to a Marianna rape case in which he has pleaded not guilty. The defense has said police duped Vance into confessing and giving officers a DNA sample to compare with evidence in the case.