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Marni Yang Gets Life In Jail For Murdering Ex-Bear's Girlfriend

UPDATED: 5/20/2011 11:55 a.m.

WAUKEGAN (CBS) -- A judge in Waukegan sentenced a former real estate agent to life in prison Friday for the murder of the pregnant girlfriend of ex-Bear Shaun Gayle.

Before the sentencing phase of the hearing began, Yang's attorneys asked for a new trial, contending that the wiretaps that caught Yang on tape describing the killing were illegal. They also said Yang was denied the opportunity to get a haircut or wear makeup during the trial, which made her appear guilty in the eyes of the jurors.

Lake County Associate Judge Christopher Stride rejected that request.

"It's frankly a little bit remarkable to me that we have spent 45 minutes talking about Ms. Yang's hair on the day that she is to be sentenced for the murder of a pregnant woman and her unborn child," Stride said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Stride had only one option when sentencing 43-year-old Marni Yang in the 2007 murder of Rhoni Reuter --life in prison. She is not eligible for parole.

That is because jurors March 15 found that Yang had committed the murder in a "cold and calculated" fashion. Before that happens, members of Reuter's family are expected to address the court.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780's Nancy Harty Reports


The jurors weighed Yang's fate for only four hours, after a trial in which prosecutors outlined a tale of deadly obsession. They said Yang became obsessed with Gayle upon meeting him at a 20th anniversary Super Bowl party in 2005, and soon became Gayle's real estate agent and an occasional sex partner.

Prosecutors said Yang decided to kill Reuter when learning that Reuter was pregnant with Gayle's child. Gayle admitted on the witness stand in court that he engaged in sex with Yang the night before the murder.

"I can't find the words to convey the regret I'll have for the rest of my life even knowing her," Gayle said after the verdict.

Yang's mother and members of Reuter's family are both expected to be in court for sentencing.

Reuter's brother, Thad, said in March that the verdict and sentencing provide some closure for his family.

"Knowing that someone is behind bars for life for what they've done for my sister will help in the healing process for us," he said, even though he said the verdict will "not bring back" Reuter or the unborn child, whom Gayle and Reuter had decided to name Skylar.

Reuter was shot six times as she opened her kitchen door to leave for work. Two of the bullets struck the baby.

Key to the conviction were two secretly recorded conversations, made in March 2009, in which Yang described the killings to her friend Christi Paschen, even describing how she fired the final bullet into Reuter's head as she lay dying.

Assistant State's Attorney Patricia Fix said she found Yang's actions "colder than I've ever seen in my life."

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