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FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- Before the jury that convicted him of aggravated murder could decide whether Trovon Donta Ross should be executed, he made a deal to be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Ross, 30, was convicted Monday in the slaying of his ex-girlfriend, Annalee Christensen. He also was convicted of attempted aggravated murder in the wounding of her boyfriend, Air Force Staff Sgt. James T. May III.
The penalty phase of the trial was set to begin Wednesday, with the jury to decide whether May would be sentenced to execution, life without parole or 20 years to life with possible parole.
Instead the judge cleared the courtroom while Ross talked with his sisters for about 30 minutes and agreed to accept the prison sentence.
The sisters persuaded him to "be alive to have a relationship with him," defense attorney Stephen R. McCaughey said. "Now his (two) kids can have a dad."
Second District Judge Rodney Page brought the jury back and told them what happened.
He then immediately sentenced Ross. In addition to the life sentence for the murder, he was sentenced to five years to life for attempted aggravated murder and zero to five years for failure to respond to police officers in a high-speed chase through Clearfield and Layton.
McCaughey said Ross could not admit to him he was guilty until a few days ago.
"He finally faced up to reality" after hearing all the evidence, McCaughey said.
Steven D. Christensen and Julie Linford, Christensen's parents, spoke to the judge about how the death of their daughter impacted their family.
Jurors and others in the courtroom wept openly as the two described the 23-year-old woman who loved life, loved others, loved to have her mother braid her hair and installed 35 house plants in her father's home.
Steven Christensen said he had prepared a statement but it was "strong in favor of the death penalty.
"Trovon brutally assassinated and killed my daughter, then tried to kill J.T. (May)," he said.
He said Ross was a person who had no value for life, but he hopes Ross "can work through his anger as I will."
Ross apologized "for taking the life of Annalee Christensen. I wish I could take it all back. I love her. I was crazy about her. ... She asked me to leave, and I couldn't leave."
He said that when he killed her, "I wanted to take my life that day, but James May was in the doorway and I fired off at him."
The shootings occurred on June 30, 2003, at Annalee Christensen's home in Clinton.
May testified in the trial that that morning, Ross knocked on the door and kept asking the woman about her sex with May. May said that when Ross pushed her toward the bedroom, he tried to flee and was shot.
Steven D. Christensen testified he learned of his daughter's death when Ross called him and said, "I just shot and killed your daughter, Annie. Now I'm on my way to your house to finish the job."
Instead, Ross was captured following the chase.
Annalee Christensen was found dead on her floor. She had been shot in the back of the head, in the neck and in the abdomen. There was a comforter over her.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)