A Wallace man was convicted Thursday night of bludgeoning his wife to death with a hammer.
The jury deliberated more than 10 hours before finding John Whipple, 46, guilty of second-degree murder. Prosecutors had charged him with first-degree murder in the death of Deborah Whipple.
Police found the 46-year-old woman’s body Nov. 18, 1996, inside the locked trunk of the family car. The couple’s teenage daughters called police after finding a trail of blood to the car.
Whipple took the stand in his own defense during the 2-1/2-week trial and admitted hitting his wife in the head with a stainless steel mallet their son had made.
Whipple talked about rolling his wife’s body onto a sleeping bag and stuffing her into the trunk after killing her in the garage.
His attorney, Val Siegel, said Whipple snapped after nearly 40 years of mounting emotional strain. Growing up watching his father abuse alcohol and his mother, horrendous memories of serving in Vietnam, the pressure of his own stormy marriage and the increasingly independent spirits of his teenage daughters all contributed to the breakdown, Siegel said.
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