INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — A judge sentenced Michael Jones to life in prison without parole for the murder of 26-year-old Diana Duve.
Jones strangled Duve and left her body in the trunk of her car in 2014.
A jury Wednesday had the option to recommend the death penalty or life without parole. The jury recommended the life sentence after more than three hours of deliberation.
“He’s still going to die in jail, one way or another. He’s still going to die in jail and he’s never going to hurt another girl again,” said Duve’s mother, Lena Andrews.
Gasps could be heard in the courtroom when the jury’s recommendation was read.
Before the judge read Jones’ sentence, family and friends of Duve’s made some final statements to Jones.
“Look at me. You came to my home, you sat at my table, and you took my daughter away from me. There is no punishment harsh enough for what you took from me. Nothing can happen to you that will satisfy me ever again because you’re a coward,” Andrews said to Jones. “If hate could kill, you would be dead now for what you took from me.”
She said she wanted to see Jones face the death penalty, but respects the jury’s decision.
Jones said very little, except asking the judge to give him credit for time served.
“That was him antagonizing these people. That was him poking his finger in their eye one last time. That’s the conduct of a soul-less monster,” said Chief Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl.
Bakkedahl agreed the state was disappointed Jones did not get the death penalty, but also expressed his appreciation for the hard work of jurors.
“We take some small solace in the fact that he’s gone. He will not haunt this community again. We genuinely believe we were confronted with evil in that courtroom,” Bakkedahl said.
Bakkedahl said the state will be inquiring about how the jury voted. It takes a unanimous vote by a jury for a judge to be able to impose a death sentence.