ARCHIVE STORY: Victim's family reacts to Lee Christensen verdict
ESTHERVILLE, Iowa (KTIV) -
"We the jury find the defendant guilty of a lesser included offense of murder in the second-degree," a jury member read Friday afternoon.
Emotions ran high in an Emmet County Courtroom as 19-year-old Lee Christensen learned his fate in the killing of Thomas Bortvit.
It was a decision Christensen's family says doesn't fit the crime.
"This verdict of murder in the second degree will never be good enough," said Brittany Bortvit, the victim's sister. "But, I'll be able to find peace in knowing that Lee's gonna have to end up facing God."
Christensen's conviction came after 10.5 hours of deliberation, where the jury could have handed Christensen a verdict requiring a sentence of life behind bars.
A verdict of second-degree murder brought Bortvit's family to tears as they remember the life they lost.
"His big heart and kindness was used against him," said Brittany Bortvit. "Little did we know that that amazing strength that he had would ever be used to end his life."
The prosecution hoped for first-degree murder because they said Christensen planned the killing, did it, and then tried to cover up his crime.
Christensen's ex-girlfriend was dating Bortvit during the time of his death. He wrote in a journal entry to her that the thought of her with Bortvit "destroyed" him.
Christensen's sentencing is set for September 16th at the Emmet County Courthouse.
He faces up to 50 years in prison when he is sentenced and is eligible for parole after 35 years.