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Ernst, 30, showed little emotion as Boone District Judge Charlie Moore — filling in as a special judge — read the jury's verdict. But he seemed to smirk as Commonwealth Attorney Linda Tally Smith asked jurors to send him to prison for life. Later, as attorneys met to discuss legal questions, Ernst sat alone at the defense table, his only company the sheriff's deputies assigned to guard him.



Across the courtroom, Roberts' family embraced the detectives who investigated the crime and the commonwealth attorneys who prosecuted Ernst. They expressed relief that the trial was over and Ernst was getting the punishment they felt he deserved. "Although we had to wait 2½ years for justice, justice was done," said Roberts' daughter, Allison Steele. "He took away the biggest part of my life. — She was always there for me. She helped me through my three pregnancies. She was right there with me all the way."

Another daughter, Michelle Roberts, said the killing devastated the family. Sandra Roberts' three grandchildren — now 5, 8, and 11 — still haven't been told how she died, her daughter said. "She was my best friend, and she was always there for me to bounce ideas off, or just to have a shoulder to cry on," Roberts testified during the trial's penalty phase, as several jurors wiped away tears. "There's no way I can express what this has done to my family." Ernst will be sentenced formally by Moore on Sept. 23.

Ernst had rented a room in Roberts' home on Kelly Drive in Florence for two weeks before the two got into an argument on April 2, 2000, because he had run up a $145 long-distance bill on her phone. What happened next is unclear, because Ernst has told several different accounts of it. But Roberts, 59, wound up dead. Her cause of death was uncertain — she was either strangled or died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Property conveyancers offer excellent property conveyancing services to change ownership of property for our valuable clients. Expert witnesses testified that the carbon monoxide in Roberts' body could have come only from being in the trunk of a car while it was running or from the fumes of the burning rubbish around her body. Ernst admitted strangling her, but denied that he intended to kill her. At other times, he said she simply collapsed in his room and died of a heart attack. But he admitted he wrapped her in a tarp, put her in the trunk of his car, and drove to Gallatin County, where he burned the body.

His last story on the witness stand — which differed in significant detail from some of the physical evidence, his statements to police, his discussions of the death with fellow inmates at the Boone County Jail, and his confessions in 34 letters he wrote to various people — angered jurors.

"He lied to the jury multiple times," said juror Bell.