Saturday, July 21, 2007

Florida man given death sentence for 1986 murders of Arkansas couple

Associated Press - July 20, 2007 7:24 AM ET

ASH FLAT, Ark. (AP) - A Florida man convicted of capital murder in the New Year's Eve 1986 slayings of an Ash Flat couple has been sentenced to execution.

Jurors took about an hour yesterday to decide on lethal injection for 56-year-old Steven Wertz of Kissimmee, Florida. On Wednesday, the jury deliberated about 40 minutes before returning verdicts of guilty on both counts of murder he faced.

After sentencing, Wertz announced to the courtroom he was innocent.

Wertz was accused in the 1986 shooting deaths of Terry and Kathy Watts, who were found dead at their home. Co-defendant 39-year-old James Snyder Junior of Georgetown, Kentucky, who faces two counts of being an accomplice to capital murder, is to be tried later.

Police say the couple were killed in front of their infant son as the result of a custody dispute involving the 5-year-old daughter of Terry Watts.

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