Missouri man who killed wife gets 35-year federal sentence

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal judge has extended the prison sentence of a southeastern Missouri man who killed the mother of his triplets amid a divorce and then helped write the manuscript for a tell-all book while behind bars.

James Clay Waller, 47, of Jackson, was sentenced Tuesday to 35 years for a federal charge of interstate domestic violence. Under the sentence, he also is barred from profiting from the manuscript, which is titled, "'If You Take My Kids, I'll Kill You!': The Public Confession of Missouri's Most Notorious Wife Killers."

Waller admitted through a plea deal to digging a grave for his estranged wife, Jacque Sue Waller, in 2011 on an island on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River and then spending the night with his girlfriend in Illinois. After a meeting the next day at a divorce lawyer's office, he lured his wife to his home, where he beat and strangled her, according to the plea. The triplets were 5 years old at the time.

In exchange for leading investigators to the estranged wife's body two years later, Waller was sentenced to 20 years in state prison for second-degree murder. The state sentence, which came in 2013, will run at the same time as the federal sentence.

"Well, of course we wanted life, but since that wasn't available, we'll be happy with this," Jacque Waller's sister, Cheryl Brenneke, who is raising the triplets, told the Southeast Missourian. "He would be around 73, and the kids would be about 38 when he gets out, and at that point, they'll be old enough to handle him and his manipulations, and my mom and dad won't be around, so they were good with that."

Federal prosecutors said in court filings that the interstate domestic violence charge was driven by Cape Girardeau officials' dissatisfaction with the 20-year prison term Waller received as part of the 2013 plea deal. Prosecutors wrote the interstate domestic violence charge was given to "protect the citizens from a dangerous, sociopathic and narcissistic murderer."

Waller's lawyer, John Lynch, had argued that the discovery of the 182-page manuscript prompted prosecutors to try giving Waller more time for the same crime. Lynch said that while the actual author was someone else and that the manuscript was "in bad taste (perhaps an understatement)," prosecution for it would be a violation of Waller's free speech rights.

In the manuscript, Waller said that his love for his children and his unwillingness to separate from them through divorce was what drove him to kill his wife.

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