Convicted murderer Garrison gets 30 years |

Convicted murderer Garrison gets 30 years

Jane Reuter

“I’m sorry, sorry we’re here,” he said. “But I did not murder my wife, by God.”

Nevertheless, District Court Judge Terry Ruckriegle sentenced Garrison to 30 years – just shy of the maximum 32 years he could have received.

Garrison, who was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom immediately following Ruckriegle’s decision, appeared nonchalant. He nodded at a friend in the courtroom and said, “Guess we’ll do this again in two years,” suggesting he will appeal the sentence.

Sharon Garrison’s family members spent most of Monday morning making emotional appeals to the judge for a stern sentence. Afterward, they said they were happy with Ruckriegle’s decision. Their emotions were in stark contrast to those displayed at the end of the trial, when her family members appeared stunned and were silent and teary in the wake of the second-degree murder verdict. They had hoped for a first-degree murder verdict. But Monday, smiles accompanied the tears.

“I think the family’s relieved,” said Sharon Garrison’s sister, Carla Robbins.

“I feel very happy with the outcome,” said Lacie Dissler, Sharon’s youngest daughter. “It’s been such a hard, grueling road.”

“I feel such a sort of peace,” said Breckenridge resident Theresa Rust, who was Sharon’s best friend.

“I feel good about it,” said District Attorney Mike Goodbee. “To the extent 30 years approximates a life sentence, it’s justice in this case.”

The 59-year-old Garrison likely will die in prison, though he could be eligible for parole in 15 to 20 years, Goodbee said.

Garrison was found guilty last month of second-degree murder committed in the heat of passion for the Sept. 26, 2000, death of his wife. Her body was found buried in the yard of the couple’s home on Tiger Road near Breckenridge a month after her disappearance. The couple, married 10 years, had a reportedly rocky relationship that included death threats and repeated divorce filings. Copies of the divorce filings show money was at the root of many of their arguments.

Three of Chuck Garrison’s friends, including his son, testified on his behalf.

“I think Sharon Garrison started that fight,” Troy Garrison said. “The crime my dad is guilty of is what he did afterward. It was unfair to her family and to this community.”

Ruckriegle spoke at length before delivering his decision, addressing most of his comments directly to Garrison.

He pointed to the autopsy results, saying the beating was severe, “which the court believes to be beyond the impassioned response.”

“The wounds Sharon Garrison suffered were not consistent with the type of struggle you testified to,” Ruckriegle said.

Chuck Garrison testified during his trial the two had struggled on the floor, and that a pick axe had rolled onto her neck, its tip piercing her skull as he attempted to get up.

“This is a sad, sad case involving flawed people,” Ruckriegle said. “It’s the kind of thing you wish you could go out on the street and into each school and tell people, “Don’t let this happen to you, because it can if we persist in putting our own egos into bitter battles with people who are supposed to love each other.'”

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