FORT WORTH, Texas -- A jury sentenced a former nurse's aide to 50 years in prison Friday for leaving an accident victim to die a slow death while lodged in the broken windshield of her car.
Chante Mallard, 27, could have received anywhere from five years probation to life in prison for murdering Gregory Biggs. She and her family cried after the sentence was read.
"There's no winners in a case like this. Just as we all lost Greg, you all will be losing your daughter," Biggs' son, Brandon, told Mallard's family in a statement he read in court after the sentence was announced.
Brandon Biggs told Mallard he accepted the apology she tearfully offered on the witness stand, "but in return I hope that you will accept my forgiveness and I hope you will accept the forgiveness of Jesus Christ."
Both families declined to comment afterward.
It took the jury less than an hour Thursday to convict Mallard, who after a night of drinking and using drugs struck Biggs, 37, with her car about 3 a.m. on Oct. 26, 2001. She drove home with the man crumpled in the windshield and left him in her garage to die.
Medical experts testified that Biggs was alive for one or two hours after being hit and probably would have survived had he received medical help.
Defense attorney Jeff Kearney said he was disappointed with the length of the sentence, which was announced after jurors deliberated about 2 1/2 hours. He said an appeal is planned.
"We certainly knew it would be a significant prison sentence based on all the evidence but we were hoping it would be somewhat lighter," he said.
Mallard told the jury Thursday that she was sorry, adding that she didn't call for help because she was scared and didn't know what to do. But prosecutor Richard Alpert said Friday that the case "is all about selfishness."
"Some people lack the moral fiber to do the right thing," he said. "A man is lying in her car moaning and bleeding and she needs someone to tell her what to do? Any decent person would call for help."
Kearney told jurors that Mallard would not have left the man to die if she hadn't been under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and Ecstasy.
Alpert, who had told jurors that Mallard deserved life in prison, said he was pleased with the sentence. "We just wanted to point out that this was a serious case and it needed a serious punishment," he said.
Brandon Biggs testified earlier in the week that his father took medication for bipolar disorder and mild schizophrenia. He said Biggs had been homeless for a couple of years after loaning a girlfriend money and then losing his truck and home.
Biggs' battered body was found in a park the day after he was hit. Authorities had no leads in the death until four months later, when one of Mallard's acquaintances called police and said she had talked about the accident at a party.
Officers went to Mallard's house and found the bloodstained, dented car. They also found the passenger seat burned in the back yard.
Before her trial began Monday, Mallard pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence by burning the bloody car seat. On that charge she was sentenced to 10 years in prison, to be served concurrently with the murder sentence.
A friend of Mallard's and his cousin pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence by dumping the body. Clete Jackson and Herbert Cleveland received prison sentences of 10 years and nine years, respectively.