Update: Former Lanett City Councilman Gets His Sentence for Murder of His Wife

LaFayette, Ala., Dec. 20, 2006 -- Former Lanett city councilman Barry Waites, who was convicted Nov. 20 of the murder of his then wife, Charlotte, in 1998 has been sentenced to 40 years in prison and ordered to pay $5,000 to the Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission.

Attorney Joshua McKeown represented Waites in the courtroom.  McKeown told the AP on Wednesday that Waites plans to appeal the sentence and maintains his innocence.

District Attorney E. Paul Jones told wsfa.com on Thursday that he had recommended to Judge Tom Young a sentence of at least 30 years and was "pleased the sentence was greater.  I thought it was appropriate under the circumstances."  Jones says the sentence was in the middle range of the sentencing guidelines where the average sentence for this crime is 20 years and he believes the max would have been 85 years.

Jones tells wsfa.com that at some point Mr. Waites will be leaving the Chambers County Jail and turned over to the Department of Corrections, but he says that is coordinated between the sheriff's office and the DOC.

Jones says Waites' brother and sister both spoke in favor of the extreme sentence.  He says Charlotte's family was "happy with the situation and had no complaints" about the sentencing.

The district attorney says he fully expects an appeal in the case as a standard procedure.  "If I were a defense attorney and he paid me, I would too," says Jones.

He says he believes "most of the rulings on evidentiary matters went in Mr. Parkman's favor" during the trial and Jones believes this "lessens the likelihood" the case will be overturned on appeal.  But the prosecutor is quick to note he would never guarantee an appeal would not be successful.  "That's why I like trying cases against good attorneys.  The probability of reversal is lessened when you've got a very good attorney trying the case."

Deputy Chief District Attorney Damon Lewis in his closing arguments said the case was quite simple. "Aug. 4, 1998, Charlotte Waites was killed.  Barry Waites was there."

Charlotte Waites was strangled and beaten in the couple's home.  Prosecutors contend a dispute over finances led to the struggle that ended in her death.

In a case that's seen lots of twists and turns and strange events, the sentencing was temporarily delayed Wednesday after it was learned one of Waites' attorneys Martin Adams was taken by ambulance to the hospital Wednesday morning in Birmingham.  Waites' lead attorney Jim Parkman contracted a bad case of the flu while in Arizona on a recent case and was not at the hearing.

The judge made it clear, however, that sentencing would proceed and young McKeown came to Chambers County to handle things for Mr. Waites.