This morning a Bibb County judge sentenced Jody Byrd to 99 years in prison for killing his wife Desta in 1999.
In early November, a jury convicted Jody Byrd of gunning down his wife Desta Dodson-Byrd at their home in Brierfield more than 14 years ago.
Desta was found dead with a gunshot wound to her head in the couple's driveway in February 1999. Byrd claimed that he found his wife's body when he came home from word and during the trial, his defense maintained that Desta killed herself.
Desta's death remained a mystery until 2011, when authorities arrested Jody Byrd and charged him with murder. Prosecutors said Byrd killed his wife to get money from an insurance policy.
For more than a decade, a group of Desta's friends and family sought to bring her killer to justice. They formed the group "Justice for Desta" and brought her unsolved murder to the public's attention through billboard signs posted around Birmingham and Jefferson County. They also approached law enforcement and asked them to continue investigating the case long after it had gone cold.
After Byrd was convicted last month, Desta's family members cried tears of relief. Her dad, Ronnie Dodson, said although the verdict couldn't bring his daughter back, he felt that justice had been served.
Some of the people in court today for Byrd's case are current and former ABI agents who first investigated the murder.
A few of Desta's family members read prepared statements during Jody Byrd's sentencing. In one of the statements, a relative said Desta "never had a chance to realize her dreams."
Desta's family members wore pins with her photo on them to the sentencing.
Blount County D.A. Pamela Casey prosecuted the case and asked the judge for the maximum sentence of 99 years. Byrd's attorneys were asking for 20 years in prison.
Bibb County Circuit Judge Jack Meigs sentenced Byrd to 99 years in prison.
Follow @Fox6Kelvin on Twitter for more details on the sentencing trial. He will also have a report on this story during FOX6 News at 5.
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