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50-Year Sentence in Windshield Murder

The victim's son speaks, offering Chante Mallard forgiveness but saying 'restitution' is required.

June 28, 2003|Lianne Hart | Times Staff Writer

FORT WORTH — Chante Mallard wept Friday as she was sentenced to 50 years in prison for murdering a homeless man she struck with her car and left to die in the windshield.

The jury of five women and seven men also sentenced Mallard to 10 years in prison for tampering with evidence by burning the passenger seat of her car to conceal the crime. The sentences will run concurrently. Mallard, 27, will be eligible for parole in 25 years.

As state District Judge James Wilson read the verdict, Mallard looked straight ahead, then bowed her head and softly wept. Her mother, Dorothy Mallard, pressed a tissue to her eyes and silently shook as her son James put an arm around her shoulders. On the other side of the courtroom, Brandon Biggs, the son of the victim, Gregory Biggs, clasped his hands in his lap and closed his eyes.

Before court was adjourned, Biggs took the witness stand to make a statement. "We're sorry for your loss as well," he said to the Mallard family. "There are no winners in a case like this. Just as we all lost Greg, you all will be losing your daughter."

To Chante Mallard, he offered his forgiveness but said "while forgiveness is given, restitution is still required." He asked Mallard to "seek the guidance" of her family as she adjusted to her life ahead.

Mallard was convicted Thursday of murdering Biggs, 37, a former bricklayer and school bus driver she hit with her car as he walked along a freeway here. Instead of seeking help, Mallard hid her car in her garage as Biggs, lodged in her windshield, slowly bled to death. A former boyfriend of Mallard and another man pulled Biggs' body from the windshield, wrapped it in a blanket and dumped it in a park. His body was found the next day.

At the sentencing hearing Thursday, Mallard took responsibility for her actions but said her judgment was clouded by drugs and alcohol.

Outside the courtroom Friday, defense attorney Jeff Kearney said, "We knew it would be a significant sentence based on all of the evidence, but we were hoping that it would be somewhat lighter than that and give her an opportunity to have some kind of life."

The jury's decision was a "serious punishment for a serious case," prosecutor Richard Alpert said. "We are pleased with the verdict."

He said the bizarre circumstances of the case put prosecutors on unfamiliar ground. "On a certain level, it's a vehicular homicide, but that level of indifference is unique.... There isn't a case to compare this to," he said.

Earlier, lawyers made final statements before the jury deliberated punishment. "Some people lack the moral fiber to do the right thing," Alpert said. "A man is lying in her car, moaning and bleeding. Any person with a shred of decency would put the life of another person ahead of the selfish need and desire to escape punishment.... She almost got away with murder."

Kearney asked the jury for "justice tempered with mercy."

"Chante didn't intend to hit him with a car. It was an accident," he said. "What she did was horrible, but she's not a horrible person.

"She has to be punished, but please give her a chance to show the good in her. Please don't throw this life away."

Kearney said Mallard, a nurse's aide, will appeal the murder conviction.

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