A jury began deciding Chante Mallard's punishment Friday after her lawyer argued that drugs clouded her judgment when she let an accident victim die a slow death while lodged in the broken windshield of her car.
Mallard, 27, could receive anything from five years probation to life in prison for murdering Gregory Biggs.
A jury took less than an hour Thursday to convict Chante Mallard of killing Gregory Biggs, who she hit along a highway about 3 a.m. Oct. 26, 2001. His battered body was found in a park the next day, dumped there by Mallard and two men.
Prosecution witnesses said Biggs, who had been homeless nearly two years, probably lived for two hours and could have survived with medical treatment.
Defense attorney Jeff Kearney argued that Mallard was guilty of a lesser charge, failing to stop and render aid — not murder.
Mallard, 27, testified Thursday during the punishment phase of her trial, hours after she was convicted. She tearfully recounted driving home after a night of drinking and drugs when she was suddenly hit in the face with flying glass.
She soon realized she had hit a man, whose head and torso were in the car and whose leg was sticking through the jagged windshield. She got out, touched his leg, then got back in and drove home where she parked in her garage.
Mallard said she heard the man moan and knew he was alive, but never called for help. She was too afraid she'd be arrested, she said.
"I was asking God to tell me what to do," she said. "I didn't know what to do. I was scared and I was crying."
Mallard, who faces the possibility of life in prison, said she deserves to go to prison but did not say for how long. She said she "couldn't think to do the right thing" after hitting the 37-year-old Biggs because she was high on Ecstasy.
CBS News Correspondent Bob McNamara reports Mallard was asked if she thought she had gotten away with the crime, and she answered, "Yes." She said she deserved to be punished, and deserved jail.
She also apologized to the man's 20-year-old son, Brandon Biggs, and her own family.
"I have ruined the lives of other people," Mallard said, sobbing. "I have ruined my family's life. I have put people through pain. And I am so truly sorry. I'm so sorry, Brandon. I am so sorry for what I have caused your family and I am sorry for the pain that I have put my family through."
Mallard said her life had been in a downward spiral since the mid-1990s. She had been smoking marijuana several times a day, even while she worked in retirement homes, she said.
Mallard, a former nurse's aide, spoke after friends, church members and family testified on her behalf, seeking leniency from the jury.
Brandon Biggs and other relatives showed no emotion when the verdict was read. Brandon Biggs did not react to Mallard's tearful apology.
On the other side of the courtroom, Mallard's mother and other family members wept as the verdict was read.
Both families declined to comment.
Mallard pleaded guilty earlier this week to tampering with evidence by burning the bloody car seat. She faces two to 10 years in prison on that charge.
Authorities had no leads in Biggs' death until four months later, when one of Mallard's acquaintances called police and said Mallard talked about the incident at a party.
Officers went to Mallard's house and found the bloodstained, dented car. They also found the passenger seat burned in the back yard.
Mallard's friend Clete Deneal Jackson testified that she took him to her garage about six hours after she hit Biggs. He said he removed Biggs' body that night and, with the help of his cousin, Herbert Tyrone Cleveland, dumped it in the park.
Jackson and Cleveland pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and agreed to testify. Jackson received a 10-year sentence; Cleveland, nine years.