The jury reached a verdict of second degree murder in the case against Tara Grant's husband yesterday afternoon.
The second degree verdict was a disappointment to prosecuting attorney Eric Smith, Tara's sister Alicia Standerfer, and many trial watchers. I had a feeling the verdict would be second degree versus first (which carries a mandatory penalty of life without the possibility of parole) when the jury requested the audio recording of Grant's confession and information on injuries he had sustained while murdering Tara.
The good news, however, is that Michigan judges have tremendous latitude in sentencing for second degree murder: one year to life. Eric Smith has vowed to request the longest sentence possible and Alicia will request the same in her victim impact statement. "He obviously is not an asset to society," she said during her press conference after the verdict.
Alicia has also requested a permanent termination of Stephen's parental rights (Note: I thought this had already happened, apparently not) and the termination of visits with Stephen's sister Kelly. Kelly frequently baby-sat the children for Stephen and Tara, dispelling Stephen's grandiose claim of being "Mr. Mom". The visits with Kelly are upsetting for the children and remind them of their mother's murder.
It's likely that Grant will end up in a prison in the Upper Peninsula. Ironically, Tara grew up in the Upper Peninsula.
Grant's illusions of his own importance were also evidenced during his stay in the Macomb County jail, where he threw a hissy fit because he had to share his cell with another inmate. He has received disciplinary restrictions because of this.
Sentencing will be in late February.
In the meantime, please keep Tara's family in your thoughts during their first holiday season without her.