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Betty Lou Beets sentenced to death for husband's murder

ATHENS, Texas -- Betty Lou Beets proclaimed her innocence in the face of a death sentence for the fatal shooting of her fifth husband found buried in a mock wishing well in the front yard of her mobile home.

An eight-woman, four-man jury sentenced Beets, 48, to death by injection Monday. The same jurors convicted her last week of capital murder in the 1983 death of Dallas Fire Department Capt. Jimmy Don Beets, her fifth husband.

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Beets, the third woman in Texas now facing a death sentence, burst into tears when the verdict was pronounced but regained her composure as two deputies escorted her from the courtroom. She told television cameramen as she left the Henderson County Courthouse, 'I'm still not guilty.'

However, one juror expressed the certainty of his verdict.

'She's as guilty as sin,' said V.J. Laymance of Brownsboro.

Juror Ray Rogers of Athens said the panel originally was deadlocked 10-2 for convicting Beets, but the two holdouts changed their minds after jurors spent more than five hours Friday reviewing evidence.

Fay Lane, Mrs. Beets' oldest daughter, said the family had expected the death sentence since Friday.

'It's just a formality; it automatically appeals (to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals),' said Lane, 32, of Balch Springs.

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Beets' body and that of Mrs. Beets' fourth husband, Doyle Wayne Barker, were found buried at her Cedar Creek Lake trailer house June 8. Autopsies showed both men had been shot in the back of the head. The defendant was tried only in the Beets killing.

She accused her son, Robert Branson II, of murdering Jimmy Don Beets during an argument on Aug. 5, 1983. She said she helped bury the dead man in her front yard to protect her son, who was on probation for burglary.

Defense attorney E. Ray Andrews, said his client was prepared for the jury's decision, adding, 'I still believe she's innocent.'

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