Sevier County (WVLT) -- Today in Sevier County a jury deliberated for nearly eight hours in the case of John Wayne Blair. The verdict, guilty of first degree murder, for the tortured killing of his neighbor, 23-year old Kelly Sellers.
Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford was in Sevier County for that verdict, and the sentence final sentence.
"Please don't put him to death," said Blair's mother, "he's a good boy. He didn't do that."
The jury found John Wayne Blair guilty, but did not sentence him to death. Blair apologized to Kelly Seller's mother just before the sentence was handed down.
"I'm sorry what happened to her," the convicted Blair said, "She was a very good person. She was not a whore."
"I'm sure in his own way, he meant it," said Tammy Peterson, the mother of Blair's victim Kelly Sellers.
As his life sentence was announced, Kelly Seller's family cried tears of relief.
"I used to think Kelly couldn't rest until this was over, and I met somebody who told me the minute he hit her on the head and it was done, she was resting."
Peterson says no one can bring the light of her life back, but she's glad to see her daughter's killer will be put away forever.
"I have felt from the beginning, my father in heaven is going to do far worse to him than any jury or judge could do. So I'm okay with this."
For the family they can now rest a little more easily than they have in the past.
"I'm not sure there is ever closure, but at least this can't happen to anybody else," Peterson said. "Their decision made it to where I can sleep at night. Hopefully I'll be able to move on."
While the Sellers family cried, John Blair's mother just held her son's hand and says good-bye, and his attorney breathed a sigh of relief knowing that his client's life was spared.
"There were so many mitigating factors in the way John Blair grew up, as well as his mental retardation," Ed Miller said, "It's not a case that cries out for the death penalty."
Miller says he plans to file a motion for a new trial immediately.
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