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7th November 2003
Minister Gets Life for Killing Wife, Daughter
LOS ANGELES -- A Los Angeles minister was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 1999 shotgun slayings of his wife and 7-year-old daughter.
A jury convicted Henry Hayes, 38, (pictured, left) on Aug. 19 of two counts of first-degree murder, along with the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, for the Aug. 27, 1999, murders of his wife, Vangela, 39, and daughter, Teanna.
But jurors deadlocked on whether to recommend that he be sentenced to death or life without parole, and prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty a second time.
Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace alleged that Hayes, a minister at a small Los Angeles church, committed the killings because he feared his wife would expose his extramarital affair with another woman, which would have ruined his chances of becoming a pastor at a "mega-church" in Long Beach, Calif.
Before the sentence was handed down Friday by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito, Hayes, wearing a blue suit and silver tie, asked for forgiveness.
"This is a tough day for me. I hope that anyone I've caused pain and anger can forgive me," Hayes said.
Addressing his in-laws, Hayes said, "I understand your grief, anger and frustration. Whatever you do, let's be Christian about it. If I caused any pain or hardship, please forgive me."
Hayes, who worked as a part-time security guard, was deeply in debt and stood to receive $160,000 from a life insurance policy on his wife and daughter after their deaths, according to the prosecutor.
But Hayes' attorneys argued that the talk about the couple's financial situation was overstated, and they maintained that the prosecution's case was all about speculative motive and nothing about evidence.
Members of Vangela's family took the opportunity to express their pain and heartache about the murders to Hayes.
"Words can't express the pain and heartache you caused my family," said Cornelius Harris Jr., Vangela's brother.
"Van and Teanna gave you nothing but love. They didn't deserve what you did to them," he said. "If we lived in biblical days, not only would it have been acceptable to seek revenge, it would have been mandated."
"On behalf of my family, we wish you nothing but misery," he said.
Vanegla's aunt, Allison Windbush, called it a wonderful day after more than four years seeking justice and said she had forgiven Hayes for his "evil act."
But "you killed the only person who loved you unconditionally," she told Hayes.
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