Jury: Man shot wife,
put her in trunk
innocence, Hebert sentenced to
By Julie Poppen And
Sue Lindsay, Rocky Mountain
Hal Hebert continued to
proclaim his innocence Friday, even after
jurors found him guilty of first-degree
murder in the shooting death of his
Family members of Carol
Hebert gasped quietly and wept as the
unanimous verdict was read after jurors
deliberated for less than five
He was sentenced to
life in prison without parole.
"We felt this was
justice done," Carol Hebert's brother Joel
Haataja told the court before the
sentencing. "My sister didn't deserve to
Haataja asked the judge
for the maximum sentence.
"We don't want him to
enjoy any nice food, books, liquor,"
Denver police said
Hebert, 60, shot his 55-year-old wife in
the back of the head and put her body in
the trunk of her car April 11, 2001. Her
body was found the next day in the car,
which was parked in the 1500 block of
Valentia Street with the engine
Hebert showed little
emotion at the verdict.
In his first comments
in the two-week trial, Hebert told the
court he loved his wife.
"I didn't hurt her," an
impassive Hebert said. "I'm very, very
sorry I let her down."
Hebert turned toward
members of his wife's family and
"From the first moment
I saw her I would have sacrificed my own
life to protect hers," he said.
Judge Michael Mullins
said he had no discretion in the
sentencing and said the evidence of guilt
"seemed to be overwhelming."
Defense attorney Harvey
Steinberg declined comment but said he
will appeal the verdict.
Before the verdict was
reached, Steinberg said the government's
case lacked a crucial ingredient -
"The big question is
why," Steinberg said. "Even her family
members all testified that he adored her."
Not knowing why "is the
hardest thing for me to deal with," said
Lynn Peterson, Carol Hebert's sister.
"We're not going to
have any answers," Peterson said as she
left the courtroom with tears in her
Prosecutors said hard
science put Hebert away.
"The physical evidence,
DNA and trace evidence all indicated she
was killed in her home," prosecutor
Stephanie Villafuerte said.
Lombardi said a Listerine bottle was a key
piece of evidence. Bits of plastic found
embedded in Carol Hebert's head matched
plastic from a Listerine bottle found in
the trunk of the car that police contend
was used as a silencer in her
A similar Listerine
bottle with a hole in the bottom was found
in a makeshift firing range Hebert had in
said a book called Everybody Dies that
belonged to Hal Hebert also was a key
piece of evidence because it outlined a
similar murder. The book features a scene
in which two men put a body in the trunk
of a car with the windows down and engine
running with the hope the car will be
"It appeared he planned
it for a while and quite well," Lombardi
said of the murder plot.
focused on a letter Hebert wrote to an
ex-lover after he was arrested, in which
he described his wife's death as a "a
terrible, grievous accident."
suspect Hebert had help carrying out the
crime, but they may never know
"Someone had to have
been helpful in some way," Villafuerte
Hebert shot his wife in the back of the
head as she worked at her desk in the
office of their home at 655 S. Monroe
Police said a trail of
blood droplets showed Carol Hebert's body
was dragged through the house to the
garage, where prosecutors said Hal Hebert
loaded her body into the trunk of her
Hebert claims he was
frantic when his wife failed to return
from a shopping trip and wound up going to
the police station to report her
The house didn't
contain large amounts of blood, but police
said carpet in the office and hallway had
been cleaned. There was no sign of an
But some family and
friends said Hal Hebert adored his wife
and the couple were happily
"Frankly, it was the
best marriage I've been around in my
life," said Mason Beau Hebert, Hal
Hebert's son. "It was very loving. They
just never fought."
The couple overcame a
yearlong affair Hal Hebert had in
1998-1999, at the same time Carol Hebert
was battling breast cancer, witnesses
But Carol Hebert's
family said they had no doubt who killed
"I'm just so thankful,"
Carol Hebert's mother, Kathleen Haataja,
said of the verdict. "He took her life. He
took her future. He ruined