Jeff Smith, NBC 5 News
Eugene Esters, found guilty of murdering his estranged girlfriend Jennifer Johnson in Fort Worth, is waiting to learn if he'll spend the rest of his life in prison.
A Fort Worth jury sentenced Eugene Esters to life in prison for murdering his estranged girlfriend, Jennifer Johnson.
On Thursday morning, Esters was convicted of murdering Johnson in December 2011 at her Fort Worth apartment.
In a surprise move, Esters backed out of a plea deal on Monday that would have given him a 55-year prison sentence.
The trial has been speedy, it began Tuesday and wrapped up early Thursday morning. Closing arguments on Thursday lasted a little more than 20 minutes. Jurors deliberated for an hour before returning guilty verdict.
Jennifer Johnson was a mother of two children. Esters is the father of the youngest one, a three-year-old girl. Her brother is Chris Johnson, an NFL cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens.
Prosecutors said Esters kept shooting at Johnson even as she lay motionless on the floor, and then turned the gun on Johnson’s mother, seriously injuring her.
“This is a brutal cold blooded murder. Just think about the audacious nature of the crime. This crime was committed at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Broad daylight. In an apartment complex where a number of people live,” said prosecutor Rhett Parham in closing arguments.
“Forensically there is nothing to connect Eugene to that gun or to this murder. No gunshot residue test, no fingerprint of the weapon,” said defense attorney Clay Graham.