Thursday, August 17, 2006

G-U-I-L-T-Y

Finally, Janet, you have been vindicated...

The Tennessean
Thursday, 08/17/06
Perry March guilty

The jury in the Perry March murder trial today found March guilty of the second-degree murder of his wife, Janet March, who disappeared 10 years ago this month.March showed no emotion as the verdict was read. The verdict carries a penalty of 15-25 years in prison.March was also found guilty of abusing a corpse and tampering with evidence.The tampering with evidence charge carries a sentence of three to six years. The abuse of a corpse charge carries a penalty of one to two years.

The jury had the option of finding him guilty of several lesser offenses, including voluntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and negligent homicide, instead of the more serious charge of second-degree murder.

The body of Janet March, a 33-year-old illustrator and artist, has never been found, a point that March's defense drove home to the jurors in closing arguments on the eighth day of the trial.

"There's been one resounding theme throughout this case: no body, no body, no body, no body," defense attorney William Massey told the jury in closing.

Prosecutors, however, said there was no doubt that she was dead, and listed 23 reasons for jurors to reach the same conclusion, including the fact that March's father, Arthur March, has said he disposed of her corpse.

Prosecutors argued that Perry March killed his wife during an argument because she demanded a divorce.

The defense didn't dispute that Perry and Janet March had a troubled marriage. But his lawyers were sharply critical of Janet March's parents, Lawrence and Carolyn Levine, and the police investigation, claiming that it focused all of the investigators' attention on March, while excluding viable suspects in the case.

Some of the most damaging pieces of evidence used against March were jailhouse tape recordings of him plotting with an inmate to kill the Levines. March was convicted of conspiracy in that murder-for-hire case earlier this year.

Throughout the trial, the defense was critical of the number of inmates testifying against Perry March. Four inmates, including March's own father, provided evidence against him.

Arthur March pleaded guilty to conspiring to kill the Levines and will get 18 months in prison and three years of supervised probation and have similar charges in state court dropped for testifying against the son.

Massey told jurors that Arthur March was forced to cut a deal to avoid dying in prison and to keep his two other children, who'd been contacted by federal officials, from getting charged.

The defense attorney said that if they came away with nothing else from the trial, they should know that there are things in the system that need to be changed, referring to inmates who testify in hopes of getting their own charges reduced.The prosecution, using a PowerPoint presentation, noted that each inmate's story was backed up by another piece of evidence.

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