A jury found Paula Hall guilty of second-degree murder on February 9th of this year of killing Freda Heyn (b.). Hall had been charged with first-degree murder, but the jury took about five hours to convict her of the lesser crime. Hall's case had been moved to Taney County on a change of venue.
During today's sentencing in Ozark, defense attorney Rita Sanders said any prison time is like a death sentence for Hall, because the 41 year-old woman suffers from many health problems -- according to Sanders, Hall has heart and cholesterol issues.
During the victim-witness impact statement portion of today's sentencing, Freda Heyn's husband, Fred Heyn said he believes Paula Hall knows where Freda's remains are... "All I have in the casket are Freda's skull and one bone that was found near the skull... to me that just isn't right... we've had trouble eating, sleeping, and really living going through all of this."
Heyn was last seen alive at the post office in Oldfield. Prosecutors say that she was abducted from her mobile home by Paula Hall's former brother-in-law, Billy Wayne Hall, and brought to the trailer of David Epperson (b.) which was is approximately a mile-and-a-half away.
Epperson (a.) testified at his former girlfriends trial that it was outside his house that Paula Hall swung a golf club, "roundhouse style," at Heyn--who hit the woman several more time before she fell face first to the ground.
Epperson told jurors that Billy Wayne Hall (b.) helped him move Heyn's body to the side of the trailer, then the trio went inside to get high on methamphetamine.
Heyn's skull was found by hikers south of Chadwick in the Mark Twain National Forest in the spring of 2004 -- the rest of her body, which authorities believe was cut up -- has never been found.
Modern science is what led authorities to the Hall's and Epperson. Epperson's DNA was left in Heyn's trailer when he cut his hand on a piece of glass as he helped Paula and Billy Hall clean the 68 year-old woman's trailer.
Sanders, who represented Paula Hall pro bono (free) says that, "I've lost faith in the jury system after this verdict....if not for her dating David Epperson, we might not be standing here."
Epperson had been charged with second-degree murder in Heyn's death but was offered a deal by prosecutors in exchange for his testimony. He got five years probation for his testimony.
Christian County Prosecutor Ron Cleek says (a.), "we believe in a justice system in this country and I believe it worked in this case."
Freda Heyn's grandson, who asked not to be identified by name, says that "a person who steals can get ten years, but a person who murders someone gets twenty....it's just not fair.
Charges against Billy Wayne Hall were dropped last year because of lack of evidence, however, after hearing new evidence during the Paula Hall's trial Cleek filed new murder charges against him.....this time adding kidnapping.
Billy Hall had been on the lam for a couple of weeks after being newly charged in Heyn's death......authorities eventually captured him at a friends house in Taney County.
Sanders is representing Billy Hall in his murder case....this time his mother is helping to pay for his defense. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 19th.
Sanders says that She will file an appeal in Paula Hall's case.
****Greg Brock contributed to this story