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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional

Woman Sentenced in Case Where No Body Was Found

August 19, 2000

SANTA ANA — An Irvine woman continued to maintain her innocence Friday as she was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for killing her 51-year-old boyfriend, whose body was never found.

Judy Valot, 42, received the maximum sentence for the slaying of Peter Theriault, who was last seen in late 1998. Valot was convicted of second-degree murder even though police were unable to find Theriault's body or a murder weapon. Prosecutors presented only a few drops of blood as physical evidence.

The Santa Ana courtroom was packed with Theriault's relatives, several of whom made sorrowful pleas asking Orange County Superior Court Judge Frank F. Fasel to ensure that Valot spends the rest of her life behind bars.

"How do you convey to someone else a loss so great it leaves an ache in your heart?" asked Penny Walsh, Theriault's cousin. "The love and affection I had for [Theriault] as a child remains today. I know it will be a lifetime of aching and wondering over the unknown."

But Valot, who continues to maintain her innocence, lashed out at the prosecutor and Theriault's family.

"There were a lot of lies told by a lot of you in here," she said. "I was convicted because of the police's lies, your lies and [Deputy Dist. Atty.] Debora Lloyd's lies."

Valot, a forklift operator for Ford Motor Co. in Commerce, was arrested in December 1998 after making what police said were conflicting and erratic statements about Theriault's disappearance.

Lloyd said Theriault, a maintenance worker at the same company, was last seen Dec. 2, 1998, in Lake Elsinore. The prosecutor claimed that Valot had become angry with Theriault because she believed he was having an affair.

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