For Misty Coffelt's three daughters, hearing Morris Brickle-Hicks convicted of their mother's murder was a moment of relief.
"It's been a long, long year," said Chontea Loghry, Coffelt's oldest child.
After one hour of closing arguments Thursday afternoon, the 12-member jury returned its unanimous guilty verdict on Class AA felony murder at 4 p.m., following two hours deliberation.
Coffelt's daughters attended all four days of the trial, joined by their grandparents from Monday to Wednesday. While Brickle-Hicks' sentencing is still on the horizon, the trial week brought some hard moments, Loghry said.
"Seeing the way she actually was when she passed was very difficult," said Britney Loghry, Coffelt's second daughter, referencing her mother's autopsy photos.
"And seeing him re-enact the movements of how he did it also was just ridiculous," Chontea Loghry, 24, said, referring to a police interview video of Brickle-Hicks shown Tuesday in court. "That was one of the hardest points to me."
Burleigh County Assistant State's Attorney Julie Lawyer reviewed prosecutorial evidence in her closing and final statements Thursday, saying Brickle-Hicks fatally stomped Coffelt, hid her body and left her to die.
Defense attorney James Loraas, who called no witnesses Thursday morning after Lawyer rested Wednesday evening, said reasonable doubt exists in the case from Brickle-Hicks' and Coffelt's confrontation that night of April 14, 2016.
"The extent of that confrontation is unknown," he said. "Did he confess to intentionally killing Misty Coffelt? No. No, he did not. She was alive when he left her."
Lawyer argued that Brickle-Hicks knew Coffelt had life-threatening injuries when he hid her body behind Runnings. In the video shown in court, Brickle-Hicks is seen admitting to detectives that he struck Coffelt repeatedly and left her still alive but seriously injured.
"He knew he left her for dead," Lawyer said.
You have free articles remaining.
With Brickle-Hicks' sentencing to be set for a later date after mental and chemical dependency evaluations, Coffelt's girls say it's not over yet — though a weight has been lifted.
But their mom is still gone.
Special days, including Abby Loghry's high school graduation and her sister Britney's 21st birthday, went by without their mother, Misty, there.
"You always think your mother's going to be there for that," Britney Loghry said.
Abby Loghry said she missed six months of school after the death of her mother during her junior year of high school.
"I just never thought that would happen to us the way it did," she said.
Since their mother's passing, the sisters, who have always been close, bonded even more. They take their days one at a time now, said Chontea Loghry, who is pregnant and due in December.
"It's hard not having a mom around," she said.
For Britney Loghry, she keeps her mother's memory close in a tattoo on her left wrist. Drawn in her mother's handwriting from a birthday card, her tattoo reads, "Love you more" over the date her mom died.
"She had her problems and her issues, but she was still our mother, and she loved us, and she loved her grandkids and I just miss her," Britney Loghry said.
"I just miss her."