Man gets life sentence in fire death

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX After the jury announced a verdict Friday, a judge sentenced Kenneth Keene, 55, to life in prison. The prosecution didn't seek the death penalty.

The body of 45-year-old Lucia Gonzalez was found March 2, 2007, at a homeless campsite near the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.

Richard McBride, the prosecution's key witness, testified that he overheard Keene and Gonzalez arguing over beer in another tent that afternoon. So to appease them, he went to get a bag with two beers he had put near some railroad tracks.

He testified that when he returned, he saw Keene sitting in a chair, drinking coffee and watching Gonzalez burn to death. McBride said Keene then told him Gonzalez had set his tent on fire, and walked out of the campsite.

Prosecutor Deborah Rudder said Keene tried to hide that he committed the crime by first telling police he wasn't there at the time and then that he must have blacked out before the fire.

Defense attorney Grant Jones argued that McBride didn't see who set the fire. He said that even if Keene didn't try to help it, didn't make him guilty of the crime.

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