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Nelson found guilty in love-triangle murder

6:55 PM, Mar 3, 2008   |    comments
Shawna Nelson shows little emotion as the jury's verdict is read.
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Nelson showed little emotion as the guilty verdict was read in open court. She received a mandatory sentence of life without parole.

Nelson was convicted of shooting Heather Garraus execution-style outside a Greeley credit union on Jan. 23, 2007.

The judge took a brief recess prior to the sentencing. When he came back, he offered Garraus' family a chance to make a statement. They declined, saying only that the facts supported the conviction.

Nelson's sister, Deb Smith, later said, "Knowing what I know of the evidence, I will never believe in my heart that Shawna did this, I will never. And I will never quit fighting for her and I will never quit fighting to see her children. She has three beautiful children and I just will never believe it."

Prior to sentencing, the judge told Nelson that Garraus did not deserve to die at her hand.

"You carried out this crime with great planning and deliberation and Heather Garraus did not deserve to die as a result of your acts. You deserve every day of the sentence I am about to impose," he said.

Nelson and her lawyer also declined to make any statements and the judge sentenced her to spend the rest of her natural life in prison.

The jury deliberated for four hours on Friday, broke for the weekend, and then took less than two hours on Monday morning to reach its judgment.

After the sentencing was concluded, many people in the courtroom had tears in their eyes and Nelson lingered in the courtroom, accepting hugs from her supporters.

Following the verdict and sentencing attorney's from both sides spoke.

Larimer County Assistant District Attorney Cliff Riedel said, "I think the Greeley Police Department did a hell of a job with this investigation. I think it's the largest investigation they've ever put on. They did it professionally. I know they caught some flak in the press that perhaps they had a conflict. There was no conflict as far as we were concerned. They were objective."

Nelson's defense attorney Kevin Strobel said his reaction to the verdict was, "Just disappointment. That's all."

When talking about the Greeley Police Department's investigation and its close ties to the case, Smith said, "To me Shawna was arrested, tried and convicted within 15 minutes of this horrible thing happening."

Nelson, a former police dispatcher, had a three-year affair with Garraus' husband, Ignacio Garraus - a former Greeley Police officer.

The two had a child together. Garraus broke off the affair in mid-December 2006. Witnesses testified that Nelson saw Heather Garraus as standing between her and a happy life with Ignacio Garraus.

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