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Minister Gets Life in Prison for Killing Wife, Child

November 08, 2003|From Associated Press

A Los Angeles minister convicted of murdering his wife and 7-year-old daughter was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Henry Hayes, 38, was found guilty in August of two counts of murder, with the special circumstance of multiple murders, for the shotgun killings of his wife, Vangela, 39, and daughter Teanna.

Jurors deadlocked earlier on whether to sentence him to death, and Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lance Ito declared a mistrial.

The prosecution decided not to seek the death penalty the second time.

"This is a tough day for me. I hope that anyone I've caused pain and anger can forgive me," Hayes said at the sentencing.

Hayes killed his wife and daughter because they threatened to ruin his chances of becoming a pastor at a "mega-church" in Long Beach, prosecutors said.

Hayes was working as a security guard at a convenience store and had financial problems, prosecutors argued.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Bobby Grace said in court that Hayes had been involved in multiple extramarital affairs before the killings.

Grace also said Hayes had a $160,000 insurance policy that would pay off if his wife and daughter died.

Rick Sternfeld, Hayes' attorney, said the prosecution's portrayal of the couple's financial problems had been overstated.

He maintained that prosecutors had not presented enough evidence to prove his client's guilt.

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