TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (WHNT) - A jury quickly reached a verdict Thursday in the murder trial of Ronald Weems. It took jurors about an hour to return to the courtroom.
The jury found Weems guilty of the murder of Amanda Taylor, and abuse of a corpse. Jurors came back with the verdict at 4 p.m.
Taylor's family attended the trial. WHNT News 19 spoke with her father, Billy Leeth, about the verdict and the violent act that happened to his daughter.
"She didn't deserve the things that she got, a dog didn't deserve that," said Leeth. "It's one thing to kill her, it's another to mutilate her body and lay it out there like a dog in a field to rot, that's what I can't live with."
Taylor's family said they will protest any and all parole hearings for Weems in the future. The court has not set a sentencing date yet.
On the last day of the trial, Weems took the stand in his defense. Lawyers questioned him for about an hour and a half, and Weems was stoic, answering questions with little emotion.
As the defense's only witness, Weems told the jury he learned of Amanda Taylor's plot to steal a child support check from Laurel Pruett only after getting a debit card in the mail.
Weems says he spoke with Taylor about the stolen check, arranging for her to meet with Pruett to discuss not going to the police. In a twist to what investigators have said all along, Weems said he and Taylor left his home to meet Pruett, but Taylor jumped from his car and ran away.
Weems said he then went home and started working in his basement. A short time later, Weems says Taylor returned, throwing a 30-pound rock at him. The two started fighting, and after being shoved, Weems says he blacked out. He then told jurors that he awoke next to Taylor and left the basement.
While on the stand, Weems did admit to dismembering Taylor's body with co-defendant Matthew Fox to conceal her identity. He also admitted to dumping her body on Gnat Pond Road early the next morning.
Weems also told jurors that while in jail, God revealed to him Ashley Greenhill may have done the killing. During cross-examination, prosecutors pointed out numerous times during the investigation that Weems lied to law enforcement.
The state called two witnesses Thursday morning. Brian Faulker, with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, testified about the statement he took from Weems on December 8, 2011. Faulkner read Weems' statement aloud to jurors. In it, Weems told detectives he got into a fight with Amanda Taylor after she threw a concrete block at him.
Then, Weems allegedly said he grabbed a nylon strap, wrapped it around her neck, and her body went limp.
Dr. Valerie Green with the Alabama Department of Forensics also took the stand for the prosecution. She testified the skull investigators brought in as evidence had injuries consistent with blunt force trauma.
Weems' three co-defendants also testified during the trial. Read more coverage here.