Jurors found Curtis Lavelle Vance guilty Wednesday in an assault on KATV host Anne Pressly at her Little Rock bungalow on Oct. 20, 2008. The attack shattered her face and sent her into a coma. Pressly never regained consciousness and died five days later. She was 26.
Vance, 29, of Marianna, also was convicted of residential burglary along with rape and theft of property.
Jurors deciding on his penalty could also sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. If the jury cannot settle on a penalty, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza must impose the life sentence.
Pressly's best friend, Melissa Dunbar-Gates, of CBS affiliate KTHV-TV, was with her during her last hours of life and was at the trial every day. She told "Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez Thursday she'd like to see and Pressly's family "absolutely want the maximum (sentence) under this (situation) here in Arkansas, which is the death penalty. The other option is life without parole, and, honestly - either one. I just know he's behind bars. He's never going to hit the streets again. He's never gonna prey on another woman, and that Anne stopped him. Because she fought (Vance, hard, during the attack), she stopped him."
Prosecution witnesses said DNA evidence linked Vance to Pressly's death and to a separate rape case in which he has pleaded not guilty. The defense has said police duped Vance into confessing and giving officers a DNA sample to compare with evidence in the case.
During the penalty phase that began Wednesday, Pressly's mother, Patti Cannady, said that after the death of her only child she ripped up many family photos because she didn't have anyone to give them to.
"Oh, Lord Jesus, how I wish it were me and not Anne," Cannady said.
A lawyer for the state Department of Human Services read from agency documents that revealed a troubled youth for Vance. One of Vance's aunts also testified that Vance's mother had been addicted to crack and lived for a time in a Memphis, Tenn., homeless shelter after asking her mother to raise her children.
As Vance left the courthouse, family members shouted "Love ya, Lavelle!" and he said "Love you!"
Then he shouted, "It's a corrupted system!"