Dads Against the Divorce Industry

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Woman gets life for beating death

The Associated Press
Sat, May. 10, 2003

A woman convicted in the baseball-bat beating death of another woman was sentenced to life in prison on Friday, despite a prosecutor's arguments that she deserved death because the killing amounted to torture.

The Blair County jury deliberated less than an hour before returning with the sentence for Marie Louis Seilhamer, 21.

Seilhamer's attorneys got the leniency they argued for, saying the defendant had no criminal record, was only 19 when the killing occurred and, most importantly, was under the influence of another woman convicted in the killing and should spend the rest of her life in prison rather than be executed.

Blows from a bat wielded by Seilhamer two years ago led to the death of Shari Lee Jackson, 20, an aspiring paramedic, prosecutors said. The same jury had found Seilhamer guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder earlier Friday.

Prosecutors said Kristin Marie Edmundson, now 22, believed Jackson was interfering with her relationship with another woman and recruited Seilhamer to help kill Jackson. Edmundson pleaded guilty in January to first-degree murder and will spend the rest of her life behind bars -- a fact the jury didn't learn until the penalty phase of Seilhamer's trial began.

Blair County District Attorney David Gorman called the case the most "twisted and depraved" of any he's handled in 15 years.

Seilhamer's attorneys told the jury that she was a "follower" and should be spared death.

"Marie doesn't have all that many friends," defense attorney Thomas Dickey told reporters before the penalty phase began. "She's overweight and has low self-esteem, then someone (Edmundson) makes you feel important."

Seilhamer's parents blamed themselves for not teaching their daughter to be more wary of the people they encountered.

"I told my children you never judge people ... and that was the biggest mistake of my life," said Diane Seilhamer, 45.

Robin Jackson, 45, the victim's mother, said she wanted the death penalty for Seilhamer, but was ultimately satisfied with the life sentence.

"I'm pleased she'll never get out of jail. That is the main thing, that she'll never see green grass," Jackson said.

Neither Seilhamer nor Edmundson testified during the trial.

Seilhamer's attorney said she didn't believe Edmundson wanted Jackson dead and was sickened by the attack.

In May 2001, prosecutors said Edmundson and Jackson picked up Seilhamer in a truck after she got off work from a crafts store. They drove to the clearing in the wooded area and Seilhamer got out, saying she felt sick.

The other two women also got out of the truck. Police say Seilhamer told them that Edmundson handed her a bat and that she swung at least twice at Jackson as she started walking back toward the truck.

Jackson tried to fight off Edmundson, but Edmundson slashed her throat with a box cutter, according to a statement given to police by Seilhamer.

Gorman said blows from a bat in the hands of Seilhamer killed Jackson, not slashes from the box cutter.

In a confession taped by police, Seilhamer recalled that Edmundson told her where to hit Jackson and told her to bring a change of clothes. Seilhamer also told police that the pair planned to dismember the body and bury it so Jackson would never be identified.

"(Edmundson) wanted to get a hatchet. She wanted to cut off her head, hands and feet and bury her somewhere else," Seilhamer told police.

After dumping the body underneath a mattress, the two took the truck to a car wash and gathered their clothes in a garbage bag, Seilhamer said. She said Edmundson returned with two other friends to set fire to the body.

Gorman said he was pleased that the jury saw fit to convict Seilhamer, even though Edmundson planned the killing.

"Who's worse? The person who hates you, or someone who kills you for no good reason?" he said.

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