Spared

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Sarah Wamsley ran sobbing out of a Tarrant County courtroom yesterday afternoon as her 21-year-old brother, Andrew Wamsley, was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of both his parents for their $1.65 million estate in December 2003. Prosecuting attorney Mike Parrish had sought the death penalty, because he believes Andrew is a threat to society if allowed to live. Sarah testified yesterday morning that she believes Andrew has tried to kill her before and that she still lives in fear of what he might do from jail.

"Sarah Wamsley is scared to death," Parrish told the Dallas Observer after the trial. "As she should be." As he spoke, one of the Sarah Wamsley's aunts overheard him and added, "So are the rest of the Wamsleys."

But 10 of the 12 jurors did not think Andrew was a future threat to society, despite testimony from convicted thief Wesley Bates, who was formerly incarcerated with Andrew. He has testified that in the summer of 2005 Wamsley tried to convince him to slip nitroglycerin into the food of key witness Susana Toledano just floors above them in the Tarrant County jail, and that later Wamsley approached Bates about taking a hit out on Sarah. If she was out of the picture, Wamsley thought, his sister couldn't block him from his portion of the estate.

Parrish had argued that because of the sheer nature of the crime, the death penalty was deserved. Rick Wamsley, Parrish has said, knew that his son was his murderer. Susana Toledano testified that while Rick Wamsley sat bleeding on the foyer of his own home with Andrew and his girlfriend, Chelsea Richardson, standing over him, he asked his son "Why?" Richardson replied, "Because I'm pregnant," though she wasn't. Rick then said, "We can help."

Two of Andrew's aunts were allowed to speak before the court after the sentencing. Rick Wamsley's sister looked intently at Andrew throughout her statement, saying, "Even as you were killing Rick, he offered to help you. How much more love can a father have for his child?"

Defense attorney Larry Moore said that "everyone lost" in this case, but that he was "very grateful" the jury spared Andrew's life because it was "what his parents would want."

Last May, Chelsea Richardson was sentenced to death for her role in the crimes. Both she and Andrew Wamsley are appealing their sentences. --Andrea Grimes


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