A jury convicted 79-year-old Lena Driskell of murder Friday in the shooting of her 85-year-old former boyfriend, rejecting her plea of insanity.
The judge sentenced her life in prison plus five years, and did not say when she would be eligible for parole.
The jury convicted her on all four counts — malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty.
In closing arguments, Driskell's attorneys said her belief that her ex-boyfriend was a geriatric gigolo was a delusion that became the motive for shooting him to death.
But prosecutors argued that Driskell could not plead insanity, since she admitted she knew she was wrong when she shot Herman Winslow.
‘There is no other woman’
Defense attorney Deborah Poole told jurors Winslow was too old to have affairs with dozens of women, as Driskell claimed.
"There is no other woman," Poole said. "Mr. Winslow was 85 years old."
Poole described Driskell's erratic behavior toward the end of the relationship: Watching Winslow's door for hours at a time, calling his apartment and disguising her voice. When Driskell thought she was being stood up so Winslow could see other women, he was more likely taking a nap or feeling ill, Poole explained.
Driskell and Winslow were in love, but her delusions drove her to "a distrust that grew and grew and grew until it eventually put Miss Driskell in the state you find her today," Poole said, reminding jurors that Driskell has no criminal record and was married for 30 years — making the shooting inconsistent with her normal behavior.
‘Slow descent into madness’
"Miss Driskell led an exemplary life," Poole said. "But something happened to Miss Driskell — a slow descent into madness."
Driskell rocked in her chair as Senior Assistant District Attorney Fani Willis cautioned jurors not to confuse a jealous rage with temporary insanity. Willis said Driskell knew what she was doing when she shot Winslow on the couch in the lobby of the apartment building where the former couple lived.
"Her mind is sharp as a tack," Willis said, pointing to Driskell's own testimony on Thursday, where she recalled meeting her husband as a 9-year-old and the day she first looked into Winslow's brown eyes on the day she moved into Hightower Manor in July 2003.
Willis said Driskell was only pretending to forget the gruesome details of June 10, 2005, when prosecutors say she shot Winslow in the head four times with a .22-caliber handgun.
"We have an eyewitness, so what else are they going to do but claim crazy?" Willis told jurors.
"That doesn't make her the sweet, old, feeble lady the defense wants you to feel sorry for. That makes her a cold-blooded murderer."