YAKIMA, Wash--Just before 10 this morning, courtroom three of the Yakima county courthouse was filled with nervous energy.
You could hear the excited whispers as the audience, the prosecution, judge, clerks, and of course the defense waited for the verdict. After 12 days of trial and less than two days of deliberation the jury found Clayton Stafford guilty of first-degree murder.
Many were surprised a verdict came back so soon. Yesterday, half the jurors told the judge they believed the jury to be hopelessly deadlocked. The same juror told me:
For the prosecution that decision gave closure to a 16-year-old murder-rape case. For the defense, the stakes were much higher.
On May 6th, Stafford will be sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 1993 murder of Shawna Yandell. He plans to appeal the verdict.