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Woman Sentenced to 50 Years in Windshield Murder Case

Aired June 27, 2003 - 19:01   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR: We begin tonight with breaking news out of Forth Worth Texas.
For that we go to Ed Lavandera.

Ed, what's the latest in the Chante Mallard case?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, just a short while ago here, the jury here in Fort Worth, Texas, returning the punishment for Chante Mallard. Fifty years in prison for murdering Greg Biggs. The jury handing down that punishment just a short while ago.

That means that Chante Mallard will have to serve at least 25 years before she's eligible for parole. She'll be 52 years old when that happens.

After the jury had left the courtroom, Brandon Biggs, the son of Greg Biggs, took to the witness stand and was allowed to read a statement. He told the Chante Mallard family that he was counting on them to guide Chante and to pray for her and he also told Chante that he accepted her apology. If you remember yesterday when Chante Mallard was on the witness stand, she apologized to Brandon Biggs for what she had done. He told her that he accepted the apology and that hopes that she accepts his forgiveness, as well -- Anderson.

COOPER: So has she already been taken into custody? Does she already begin serving now?

LAVANDERA: Yes. She walked out of the courtroom just a short while ago, was fingerprinted, and she in now technically in the custody of Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

By the way, also, outside here on the steps of the courthouse, some rumblings that Brandon Biggs may come out and make a statement, as well. Perhaps the prosecutors and defense attorneys will also speak and possibly also the family of Chante Mallard, as well. So that's kind of the scenario we have going on behind me right now.

COOPER: And how did she react to the reading of this verdict?

LAVANDERA: She was visibly crying throughout, not only what Brandon Biggs was reading, but also when the verdict was -- the punishment was handed down, as well. So it's very typical from what we've seen, especially yesterday during her testimony as well, very tearful. But as the prosecutors have said, they believe it was Chante Mallard crying for herself, not really for everyone else.

COOPER: All right. Ed Lavandera, thanks very much for the report.

We're going to continue following this story. We're joined now by Lisa Bloom from Court TV.

This is a major sentence. Very heavy.

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV: It is. But if you look at the range of five to 99 years, this is right down the middle. This may be a compromised verdict from this jury. It came back in less than an hour on the guilt phase yesterday.

COOPER: Right. Incredibly quick.

BLOOM: Very, very quick. Well, they felt very strongly that she was, in fact, guilty of murder, not manslaughter, vehicular homicide, a lesser charge, but the top count of murder.

Today, they took several hours, about three hours by my reckoning, to come with this decision. I think that was harder for them because there was a lot of evidence from the defense of family members who supported her. She's a 25-year-old woman with no history who seemed, seemed to have a lot of remorse. Weeping on the stand.

COOPER: Yes. We watched a lot yesterday. That was the question, I mean, how effective do you think she was on the stand, pleading her own case?

BLOOM: Well, I'll tell you, Christie Jack, the prosecutor who gave the closing statement today was powerful when she talked about remorse. And she hit hard.

"What kind of remorse does she have when the cameras and the lights are turned off? What kind of remorse did she have for four months when she covered up this crime or for two hours as a man lying dying her garage. She had no remorse then, and you, the jury," she said, "should not show any sympathy for her." And apparently they didn't.

COOPER: And the testimony was remarkable that she was giving. As you said, she was weeping while she was saying it, but she continued to -- she would peak into her garage and see this man in the car, curled up in contorted positions. It was just unbelievable.

BLOOM: And the prosecutor emphasized, as well, the man suffered this man went through for two hours as he lay bleeding to death, how painful it was to feel the warm liquid of his own blood as he was dying. What had to go through his mind.

Her closing argument was so powerful. We watched it on Court TV, gavel to gavel along with the rest of this trial. And our viewers felt very strongly that she needed to go away for a long, long time.

COOPER: And she certainly has, it seems.

BLOOM: That's right.

COOPER: Were you surprised, though, at the length? I mean, were thinking maybe a little bit shorter.

BLOOM: I was. I was predicting less, and that's because if there's ever a case for redemption, if there's ever a case for rehabilitation, surely it would be this woman, who committed a horrible crime, no question about it.

But 25 years old, and she seemed to want to do better. She's given up drugs. She had a substance abuse problem, clearly. Maybe they'd give her another chance but this Texas jury said no.

COOPER: All right. Texas jury. Lisa Bloom, thanks very much.

BLOOM: Thanks, Anderson.


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