A federal jury on Monday convicted a man of murder for pushing his wife to her death off a cliff as they hiked in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park to celebrate their wedding anniversary, rejecting his claim that her fall was a tragic accident.
It took the jury about 10 hours to find Harold Henthorn, 59, guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his second wife, a wealthy Mississippi native.
She died after plummeting about 130 feet off a cliff in a remote, rocky area where the couple had been hiking on Sept. 29, 2012, their 12th wedding anniversary.
Henthorn told investigators that his wife paused to take a photo of the view and fell face-first over the ledge. His attorney, Craig Truman, said prosecutors failed to prove he killed her.
Prosecutors argued during a two-week trial that Henthorn carefully staged Toni Henthorn's death to look like an accident because he stood to benefit from her $4.7 million in life-insurance policies, which she didn't know existed.
They seized on Henthorn's inconsistent accounts of the fatal fall and said the evidence did not match his shifting stories. Henthorn shook his head when the judge polled the jury, and after the verdict was read, one of the jurors hugged Toni Henthorn's mother, Yvonne Bertolet. "That was very meaningful," Bertolet said. "Believe it or not I forgive him (Henthorn) for doing it. I feel for him and his family."
After the jury was dismissed, applause erupted in the courtroom. "We are overjoyed with the verdict and relieved this won't happen to any other lady," said Barry Bertolet, Toni Henthorn's brother. "We don't have to worry anymore."
Harold Henthorn faces a mandatory life term when he is sentenced Dec. 8.