A man from St. Charles, Missouri, has been sentenced to 20 years' prison time in connection with the fatal beating death of his girlfriend. The man had faced several felony charges in relation to the incident, according to news reports. The 48-year-old man pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter and two counts of domestic abuse in the 50-year-old woman's death. A no contest plea does not admit guilt, but it acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict during a jury trial.

The 20-year sentence is just shy of the maximum penalty permitted by law. The man could be released after serving just one-third of his sentence, however, according to conditions of the agreement.

Authorities report the victim was found in the couple’s kitchen on May 26, 2012, with dried blood around her mouth and nose. She was unconscious on the floor. The woman never regained consciousness, and she succumbed to her injuries on June 10. According to the prosecutor, an autopsy showed the woman reportedly suffered from more than 50 bruises in connection with the assault. The prosecutor also claimed the woman had also been assaulted in late February, although she never filed charges in the case.

Friends and family members of the victim said the woman’s death caused great hardship. The woman’s daughter said she has had a difficult time holding down jobs because of the emotional impact of the incident.

The defendant in this case was able to secure a deal by entering a no contest plea. Even though he received a long sentence, he may be able to get out of prison on parole in as little as seven years. Criminal defendants should consider enlisting the help of qualified attorneys to help them make difficult decisions about their cases and ensure their rights are protected.

Source:  www.stltoday.com, "St. Charles Man sentenced to 20 years for attack that killed his girlfriend" Susan Weich, Apr. 26, 2013