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Las Cruces man convicted of 1st degree murder, 7 other charges

By Vanessa de la Viña, vanessa@kvia.com
Published On: Oct 25 2012 03:52:44 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 06:40:33 PM CST

ABC-7's Vanessa de la Viña reports.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -

A Las Cruces jury found Horace Solomon Jr. guilty on all eight counts against him, including first degree murder, in the death of his ex-wife Jenny Bates.

Bates' family cried in response to the verdict.

After more than a year, family members told ABC-7 they're glad this nightmare is over.

"To see her like that was very rough for all of us," said Jean Davis, Bates' aunt.

Bates' family and friends said the past four days have been exhausting.

"It's been a very emotional week. It takes a lot out of you. We're going to be happy to get a few days' rest and relaxation until next week," Bates' father, Fred Johnson, told ABC-7.

The jury convicted Solomon of stabbing Bates to death in her trailer home in front of their children on August 20, 2011.

Solomon stood stone-faced in the courtroom as the jury announced he was guilty on all eight counts against him: first degree murder, felony murder, aggravated burglary, kidnapping, interference with communications, two counts of child abuse, and two counts of false imprisonment.

"It's just justice. As far as I'm concerned, I'm unhappy that the death penalty isn't in New Mexico anymore, because I certainly believe that he deserves the death penalty. He got everything we asked, so we'll accept it," Davis told ABC-7.

Bates' family and friends had to stomach seeing graphic pictures of her after the stabbing. Her body had 32 stab wounds.

"Hopefully her picture will go away, and I'll be able to accept it, and hopefully she's in a place where she realizes that we're going to move on," Davis said.

The two children who witnessed the murder and testified earlier this week -- Bates' son and her boyfriend's daughter -- seemed relieved it was over.

Bates' parents, Fred and Donna Johnson, told ABC-7 the verdict was exactly what they'd hoped for.

"It's been a long time coming, but he's going to get his," Donna Johnson said.

At the end of it all, Bates' mother said the feeling she's left with is bittersweet.

"We miss her a lot but she's here with all of us. He may have taken her body but he didn't take her away from us," Donna Johnson said.

Solomon will be sentenced on Tuesday afternoon.

Prosecutors said he faces a mandatory life sentence and a possible 47 years on top of that.

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