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A Mobile County jury on Wednesday found an Alabama man guilty of capital murder in the killing of his two young children, whom prosecutors say were tortured before their bodies were thrown into the woods.
After eight days of testimony and just six hours of deliberation, the jury of eight women and four men found John DeBlase guilty of all three counts of capital murder he was charged with for the killing of 3-year-old Natalie DeBlase and 4-year-old Chase DeBlase, according to NBC Mobile affiliate WPMI.
Heather Keaton, DeBlase’s common-law wife, also faces murder charges and her trial will start in March.
Prosecutors said that DeBlase and his wife beat, starved, duct-taped and gagged the two children for months before they died. Their bodies were found in two separate wooded areas in 2010.
Defense attorneys for DeBlase had argued that he was being directed by Keaton, calling her a “violent controlling psychopath,” according to WPMI. But in jail letters read in court, DeBlase confessed to the killing the two toddlers, saying it was to “put them out of their misery.”
The sentencing phase for DeBlase starts Thursday. The state is seeking the death penalty.