A construction worker who confessed last year to killing his best friend's wife in 1988 and then recanted from the witness stand this week was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder.
Jonathan Ransom, 46, faces 10 years to life in prison, under the law in effect at that time, when he is sentenced Aug. 29 by Criminal Court Judge James Beasley Jr.
The jury deliberated less than two hours before reaching its verdict, one step down from his original charge of first-degree murder.
"He said he had been living with this for all these years," state prosecutor Theresa McCusker told jurors. "He told them he killed Daphne Rogers after the sun came up to get back at her husband to make him hurt for not taking a drug charge."
Police searched their records and verified that 27-year-old Rogers was indeed stabbed to death on the morning of July 25 that year -- 20 years ago today -- in her home at 2066 Pendleton and that the case was unsolved. She was stabbed 27 times.
They also verified that Ransom and Rogers' husband had been arrested a few months earlier on a minor drug case.
Defense attorney Rob Felkner argued that Ransom's confession was vague and that his client was confused and loaded with drugs and alcohol the morning he confessed.
He said jurors should be skeptical of police testimony that Ransom gave them additional details of the crime that are not included in his three-page confession.
"There is no proof other than that statement," he said. "You have to be sure beyond a reasonable doubt that he did it."
State prosecutor Amy Weirich said Ransom wanted to have it both ways, offering a confession to ease his conscience and then hoping police would let him go because the case was so old.
She said police went to great lengths to verify his statements and to make sure Ransom was not some disturbed person making a false confession.
"He said, 'My life's been a mess ever since,'" Weirich told jurors. "I would think someone's life would be a mess after stabbing their best friend's wife to death."