Daniel Smith will spend at least the next decade behind bars for shooting his best friend Roger Byer to death six years ago.
The jury took less than three hours to reach the guilty verdict Friday.
Byer’s family was in court and began sobbing when the verdict was read. Outside court, they expressed relief, saying they could now move forward.
Morris Bodnar represented Smith in the case.
“No one likes to see a client convicted, knowing the sentence is a life sentence. (But jurors) decided that and that’s our system, so that’s what we live with,” he said.
Bodnar could not comment on whether a trial-by-judge would have resulted in a more favourable verdict.
Crown Prosecutor Thomas Healey said he believed the credibility of the witnesses is what led to a guilty verdict.
“They were eye witnesses who were there and testified to what they saw. I believe the jury believed them and reached their verdict because of that,” Healey said.
Smith testified on Wednesday he and Byer planned to stage a robbery together. At the time, Byer was an ATM serviceman and routinely refilled the machines with cash.
On Jan. 20, 2010 the two men arranged to meet at a rural location in the Yellow Creek District.
The meeting took a violent turn when Smith shot Byer multiple times. His body was found more than three months later, face-down in the snow, lying behind his truck.
Sentencing will take place Mar. 31. Victim impact statements may also be read at that time.
Smith faces a mandatory life sentence, but there is still question whether he will eligible for parole in 10 years or more.