Motorist given 50 year-sentence in windshield murder trial
FORT WORTH, Texas (CNN) -- Jurors Friday evening sentenced Chante Mallard to 50 years for the murder of a homeless man she hit with her car and then left to die embedded in the windshield.
Mallard was sentenced to 10 years for tampering with evidence. Her sentences will be served concurrently. She was not fined for either conviction.
Under Texas law a person must serve half the term before becoming eligible for parole.
Mallard reacted with silence and tears. She tightly shut her eyes.
Brandon Biggs, son of victim Gregory Glenn Biggs, spoke to the court moments after the sentence was announced.
"To the Mallard family, we would like to say that we are sorry for your loss as well," he said. "To Chante, I personally would like to say I would accept your apology and, in return, I hope that you will accept my forgiveness and the forgiveness of Jesus Christ."
Moments later, Mallard was escorted out of the courtroom in custody as her mother sobbed.
A local prosecutor had asked jurors to sentence Mallard, 27, to life in prison, the maximum sentence possible.
"She could have saved him," said Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Christy Jack. "Doesn't that speak volumes about her character? Doesn't that speak volumes about the atrocity of this crime?"
Mallard could have been sentenced to as few as five years in prison.
Jack asked only for the sentence and not for a fine. "You cannot buy justice in this county," she said.
Defense attorney Jeff Kearney argued at length for leniency, pointing out that Mallard had no prior convictions, and saying that his client was placed in extraordinary circumstances.
"What she did is horrible, but I disagree with Ms. Jack, she is not a horrible person," Kearney said.
"Please don't destroy another life," Kearney added. "Please give her a chance to prove she can do something good."
Mallard appeared drained as she returned to the courtroom Friday for testimony during the sentencing phase. A toxicology expert was first on the stand Friday to explain the effects of the alcohol, marijuana and other drugs Mallard had taken the night of the crime
On Thursday, jurors delivered two guilty verdicts against Mallard, a former nurse's aide, for hitting Gregory Biggs and leaving him to die at her home.
The jury took less than an hour to find Mallard guilty of murder and to formally declare her guilty of tampering with evidence.
Biggs, a 37-year-old homeless man, was found in a park the day after the October 26, 2001, incident. Mallard was arrested four months later after a tip led authorities to her.
In her own testimony Thursday, Mallard sobbed as she apologized to Biggs' son and her own family and told the court she felt she deserved prison time.
"I am so truly sorry. I am so sorry, Brandon. I am so sorry for what I have caused your family and I am sorry for the pain I have put my family through," she said, addressing Biggs' son. "I am so sorry for the crime I've done to society, I really am very sorry."
Mallard, who admitted she had been drinking, smoking marijuana and doing the drug ecstasy the night of the accident, said drugs had ruined her life and she wanted to get treatment.
"Because I have ruined the lives of other people, I have ruined my family's life and I have put people through pain," she said.
Authorities later learned that Mallard's former boyfriend, Clete Jackson, and a cousin helped her dumped the body.
Mallard, Jackson and the cousin each pleaded guilty to tampering with the evidence. Jackson received a sentence of 10 years and the cousin, nine years.