FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A woman was convicted Monday of fatally shooting her ex-lover's wife after donning a black mask and ordering the victim to her knees in a parking lot.
A jury found Shawna Nelson guilty of first-degree murder in the death of 37-year-old Heather Garraus, who was shot twice in the head on Jan. 23, 2007.
Larimer County District Judge Roger Klein quickly sentenced Nelson to life in prison without parole after telling her, "You carried out this plan with great deliberation. You deserve to serve every day of the sentence I will impose."
Jurors deliberated for about six hours since Friday before reaching a verdict.
Nelson showed little emotion as the verdict was read and declined the judge's invitation to make a statement before he handed down the sentence.
Nelson, a Weld County sheriff's dispatcher at the time, had a long affair with Garraus' husband, Ignacio, who was a Greeley police officer.
They had a son together, but Ignacio Garraus broke off the relationship a month before the shooting.
Witnesses said the masked killer, dressed in black, confronted Garraus in the parking lot of the Greeley credit union where Garraus worked and told her, "You ruined my life. Get on the ground."
Garraus replied, "OK, OK" and knelt down, and the woman in black fired two shots from a gun and fled, the witnesses said.
Nelson contended she was on her way to a liquor store at the time.
The trial was moved to nearby Fort Collins because of pretrial publicity and the possibility that jurors might know the witnesses.
Nelson's husband, Ken Nelson, who was a Weld County sheriff's deputy at the time of the shooting, has been charged with evidence tampering for allegedly handling the gun that police believe was used to kill Heather Garraus.
Investigators suspect Ken Nelson took the gun after stopping his wife's pickup and talking to her shortly after the slaying. They say he later turned it in.
Ken Nelson had resigned from the sheriff's department before his arrest.
Ignacio Garraus resigned from the police force a few weeks after his wife was killed.
Shawna Nelson's one-time best friend, Michelle Moore, pleaded guilty last week to being an accessory to crime after prosecutors accused her of helping plan the slaying.
Moore testified during Nelson's trial that she and Nelson had discussed how to kill Heather Garraus.
The defense tried to discredit Moore by portraying her as Shawna Nelson's lover. Shawna Nelson testified she and Moore had a romantic relationship, but Moore denied it.