Timothy Shepherd gets 99 years

HOUSTON The jury deliberated until late in the afternoon, and there were a lot of whispers around the courthouse, wondering what was taking so long in those deliberations. Ultimately, it was the outcome that the victim's family had prayed for.

/*Timothy Shepherd*/ received the maximum sentence -- 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine -- as his punishment for the brutal murder of Texas A&M college freshman /*Tynesha Stewart*/. A jury found Shepherd guilty of murdering, dismembering and burning his ex-girlfriend in March 2007.

After Shepherd learned his sentence, he heard directly from Stewart's mother and sister in victim impact statements.

Gayla Stewart, the victim's sister, said, "Nothing that you try saying or doing could me or my family."

As they left the courtroom, the family of the 19-year-old victim cried, and thanked the Harris County prosecutors. During the trial, they heard the horrific details of Stewart's strangling death. Still, Tynesha's mother Gail Shields offers forgiveness.

"I can give forgive Timothy," she said. "I have to forgive Timothy if I want to see Tynesha again."

Shepherd's family left the courtroom quietly, but his lawyer admits the case was extremely difficult.

"To get the jury to focus on the true picture, the circumstances surrounding her death, was quite an impossible task, given the atrocities suffered by Tynesha after her death," admitted defense lawyer Chip Lewis.

Stewart's sister is glad Shepherd will face the memory of those atrocities behind bars for the rest of his life.

"I want him to wake up every day and see Tynesha's face, for the rest of his life, for 99 years," Gayla said.

The death penalty was not a punishment the jury could consider because this was not a capital murder case.

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