Ginger Lea Jefferson, 58, Toledo, received the mandatory life prison sentence which was handed down by Judge Stephen Jackson Jr. in Tama County District Court in Toledo Monday afternoon, July 14. Jefferson was found guilty of 1st degree murder in the death of her daughter-in-law, Kerry Lea Jefferson, 32, by a jury on May 27.
An appeal of the conviction seeking a new trial was denied by Jackson. He ruled the evidence and nature and circumstance of the case including blood found on Ginger Jefferson with Kerry Jefferson's DNA and her statements warranted the verdict.
Kerry Jefferson was found stabbed to death in a home in Tama on Sept. 25 by Tama Police who were conducting a welfare check.
Ginger Lea Jefferson listens to a victim impact statement in Tama County District Court on Monday afternoon, Jul 14, prior to her sentencing on a conviction of 1st degree murder. She is flanked by her defense attorneys, Michael Smith (foreground) and Aaron Siebrecht.
Just before the May 27 verdict was brought in, Kerry Jefferson's husband, Dustin Jerome Jefferson, was charged with 1st degree murder or aiding and abetting her murder by Tama Police.
A pre-trial conference was scheduled Monday afternoon for Dustin Jefferson prior to the sentencing for his mother. the case was continued.
Ginger Jefferson had 30 days to appeal her case to the Iowa Supreme Court. There is no bail after sentencing for 1st degree murder, Jackson noted and Jefferson remained in custody of the Tama County Sheriff's Office as she has been held since the date of the crime.
Marlene O'Clair, Kerry Jefferson's mother, and the victim's sister, Nicole Hitchcock, both read victim impact statements before the judgment was pronounced.
Marlene O'Clair said from the witness stand, in part, to Ginger Jefferson seated at the defense table,"I have on sympathy for you, you will have to live with this...for the rest of your life." She recounted how friends of Kerry had started a movement after her death - "Kerry Me Not Bury Me"- aimed at "stopping violent crime."
Nicole Hitchcock recounted how the death of her sister has impacted her family including her twin daughters who looked forward to her company and events with their aunt and who now experience "bad dreams."