It was a brutal murder that claimed the lives of a young mother and her unborn baby. On Friday, after nearly 7 hours of deliberations, a jury found 43-year-old Daniel Garrison Self guilty of first-degree murder. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty, but Self does face a mandatory sentence of life without parole.
The family of the victim, Leah Gee, says the verdict comes as a relief. "March 25th---she said was the best day of her life. She finally felt like there was hope. And four days later, she was dead," said her mother, Carla Neal.
Leah Gee's family says she was starting to turn her life around in March of 2003. "She was a drug user who was trying to become straight she was on the methadone program and had her life mapped out," said Neal.
But they say she couldn't quite shake her dealer, Daniel Self. "He kept control of Leah by drugs. He had told her if she didn't do what he told her to, he would kill her," said Neal.
When Leah was murdered, she was 7 months pregnant. Doctors were able to deliver the baby by emergency C-section. Jerimiah fought bravely for two weeks before dying. Attorneys in the case tried to charge Self for Jerimiah's death, but the courts ruled that Colorado law didn't allow it. So prosecutors took the sole murder charge for Leah's death to trial.
The family says this guilty verdict does give them some sense of justice. "We knew he did it from the start---just waiting and hoping that justice would do what it needed to do and it did," said her brother, Shane. "Relief. Joy. Tears---because I believe he truly needs to be in prison for life," said Carla Neal.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 17th.