Theer Found Guilty Of Murder, Conspiracy
Posted December 3, 2004
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Michelle Theer was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her husband.
After nearly 11 weeks of hearing testimony and evidence, jurors deliberated her fate for five hours on Friday, starting around 10:30 a.m.
The judge in the case sentenced Theer to the mandatory term of life in prison.
In the courtroom, the jury did not look at Theer during the sentencing and she did not look at them. Theer was offered the chance to speak after the verdict, but declined.
"In my opinion, I feel confident in what I agreed on," said Salomon Abrego, a juror who spoke to reporters after the trial. "But basically everybody had the same opinion. Some people felt bad about it, but it was the understanding about it that she did do something wrong -- she did do what she did."
At one point after starting deliberations, the jury asked the judge for documents so they could examine them more closely.
On Friday morning, the judge in the case told the jury before they started deliberating that even though Theer did not take the stand in her defense, the jury should not read anything into that. Also, the judge said that jurors should not assume Theer is guilty even though she tried to elude authorities when she fled to Florida.
In closing statements on Thursday, prosecutors described Theer as the mastermind behind her husband's death. They said Theer's husband, Capt. Marty Theer, was an unsuspecting victim. Prosecutor Greg Butler said Theer has a "dark, deceitful, manipulative, cynical, cold, evil heart."
Butler also said the airman "never had a chance to say goodbye. He never again had a chance to fly the planes he loved so much."
The prosecution has been trying to convince jurors that Theer had conspired with her lover, Army Staff Sgt. John Diamond, to kill her husband. Marty Theer was shot and killed on Dec. 17, 2000, at his wife's office.
However, Theer's lawyers warned the jury not to get distracted. Attorney Kirk Osborn reminded jurors that the case is about murder, not adultery. Osborn said Theer is "not on trial for having sex with many men. She is not on trial for having a sexual addiction if that is what she had."
Osborn even addressed rumors he and Theer are more than just attorney and client, saying, "I am happily married. She is not manipulating me. She does not have me under her spell."
Michelle Theer's family said her affair does not mean she is a murderer.
"I see it as a woman who was very lonely. Marty was gone a lot and they were having problems," said Ann Hoefler, Michelle Theer's mother.
On Wednesday, Theer's lawyers read e-mails found on Michelle Theer's computer. Some exchanges were between Theer and her mother; others were with Theer's close friend. They included talk about her marital problems.
Prosecutors said Theer ran from the law, changed her appearance, changed her name and read up on hiding in the United States. Her family said she was just trying to start a new life.
"We believe so firmly, so deeply, that she's innocent, that I see her being acquitted," Hoefler said.
Diamond is serving a life sentence in a military prison for killing Theer's husband. If convicted of first-degree murder, Theer faces a life sentence without possibility of parole.