FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – It took less than two hours for a jury in Fort Worth to find a man guilty of murdering an Arlington pastor and severely beating his elderly ministry assistant, last year.
Steven Lawayne Nelson was found guilty of capital murder and attempted capital murder for the March 3, 2011 attack at NorthPointe Baptist Church.
The same jury that convicted Nelson of murdering Pastor Clint Dobson and beating 69-year-old Judy Elliott so badly that she was hospitalized for weeks after the attack will also decide if he will spend the rest of his life in prison or be put to death.
Security was tight as the verdict was read but there were no outbursts from Nelson, who had been handcuffed and shackled during the duration of the trial.
In his defense, the 25-year-old had claimed two other people were responsible for the crimes. After just an hour and a half of deliberation it obviously was a theory the jury didn't buy.
The verdict came after the jury spent days hearing from police, who detailed how Dobson, 28, was strangled with a computer extension cord and then suffocated him with a trashcan liner, and from Elliott's husband, who arrived at the scene first and said he didn't even recognize his wife.
Last week Nelson took the witness stand in his own defense. He told jurors he hadn't killed anyone, and that he didn't know anyone was dead until he was told later.
Nelson claimed it was his two friends who murdered Dobson and beat Elliott. He told the jury his only offense was stealing Elliott's car and credit cards. Previous testimony detailed how he sold Dobson's laptop and police had produced surveillance video of Nelson using the stolen credit cards.
After finding Nelson guilty the jury took a lunch break and the punishment phase of the trail began.