Yorkton's Court of Queen's Bench erupted briefly this afternoon with spontaneous cheering and applause as a jury found Jaycee Mildenberger guilty of first degree murder for the death of Gwenda Gregory.
Friends and family of Gregory were visibly ecstatic with the ruling they had waited to hear for six years and three months. Mildenberger's eyes teared up in the prisoner box as the realization hit he would be spending a very long time in prison.
Gregory's daughter Erin found her mother's dead body, throat slashed, in the bathtub of the family home in Usherville on March 7, 2009. For three years, the murder went unsolved until police arrested Mildenberger June 8, 2012 following an eight-month $311,000 "Mr. Big" sting, which led to a videotaped confession.
The jury saw that confession, as well as another obtained post-arrest.
After a sometimes grueling trial that lasted three weeks and a day, the jury deliberated for approximately eight-and-a-half hours before returning the highest possible verdict available to it.
Madam Justice C.L. Dawson wasted no time with the sentencing merely saying that Mildenberger had been found guilty of brutally murdering Gwenda Gregory by a jury of his peers.
"There is little more to say," she said, pronouncing the mandatory sentence of life with no parole eligibilty for 25 years. With time served, Mildenberger will be in jail until at least June 8, 2037. He will be 71 years old.
Crown prosecutor Andy Wyatt said simply that the verdict was "justice."
Defence attorney Brian Pfefferle was disappointed. During his closing statement, he argued that the confessions were tainted by being the result of deceit and manipulation.
"The confession evidence heard in the case was obviously really damaging evidence," he said. "We did seek pretrial exclusion of the statements but that request was denied.It was absolutely the most significant evidence in the trial. There was no forensic evidence linking the accused to the crime; essentially his own words convicted him."
And that would be the likely foundation of an appeal if Mildenberger decides to make one.
"Appealing the admissability of the statements will be a consideration," Pfefferle said.
Please see the July 8, 2015 print edition of Yorkton This Week for more details on the conviction.
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