Guilty verdict in murder trial of ex-pastor's mistress Tyonne Palmer
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A jury on Thursday found the alleged mistress of a former Houston pastor guilty of murder for her role in the killing of the pastor's wife.
After about eight hours of deliberations over two days, the jury found Tyonne Palmer guilty of murder in the death of her lover and ex-pastor's wife, as well as guilty of tampering with evidence by getting rid of the gun involved in the murder.
Palmer, who was initially choking back tears, began crying as the judge read the guilty verdict. Prosecutors say Palmer, who was the mistress of ex-pastor Tracy Burleson, bought the gun and helped plan out the murder of the ex-pastor's wife, Paulette Burleson, then got rid of the murder weapon.
The ex-pastor's son, William Fuller, who Palmer was also sleeping with, admitted to shooting and killing his father's wife after he says Palmer and his father manipulated him to commit the murder so the two could get married.
Palmer was sentenced Thursday afternoon to seven years in prison for murder and 10 years probation for the tampering charge.
Palmer's attorney tried to convince the jury the mother of three was only guilty of tampering with evidence, but the jury found her guilty of murder as well.
"I think it was apparent from the evidence that she gravitates towards men she doesn't need to be with, she needs to learn to be an independent person," said defense attorney Anthony Osso.
Paulette Burleson's family said the sentence was light.
"I'm halfway pleased with it. Life goes on. I have closure. I have closure," said Joyce Bingham, the victim's sister.
The mother of William Fuller, Tracy Burleson's stepson who actually shot his stepmother, also thought Palmer got off easy.
"Seven years to me is a slap on the face for the family, the Burleson family," said Sharon Fuller.
But prosecutors said they respected the jury's decision.
"Going to prison isn't easy for anyone, certainly seven years. But I don't think she got off easy," said prosecutor Caroline Dozier.
Palmer's mother was on the stand Thursday morning, crying and begging the jury to be lenient with her daughter because she has never been in trouble before and because her children need her.
Palmer's attorney though says he's very relieved by the seven-year sentence, just two more years than the minimum five years for murder mandated by law.
"Any time the state of Texas is trying to put your client away for life without parole, I'll take seven years," said Osso.
Tracy Burleson was convicted of capital murder last month and will spend the rest of his life behind bars for his part in Paulette Burleson's death. Prosecutors said the former pastor of New Mount Calvary Church promisied his son money to kill his wife.
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