Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 7:49 p.m.
Doug Grant sits in the Maricopa County Jail tonight, the consequence of a deeply flawed life and the vagaries of the criminal-justice system.
A 12-person jury convicted the one-time Phoenix Suns nutritionist of manslaughter in the death of his wife Faylene. It was the least serious (though definitely nothing to sneeze at) of the three possible guilty counts before them.
The panel could have returned a first- or second-degree murder verdict, each of which would have carried a far-longer prison sentence than Grant (pictured) can now receive under Arizona law.
The verdict seemed to suggest that jurors collectively didn't buy the prosecution's theory of the case
, which claimed that Grant was a cold-blooded killer who drugged and drowned his wife Faylene at their Gilbert home in September, 2001 to reunite with a former girlfriend (and now his wife) Hilary.
Instead, they settled on manslaughter after a deliberation of almost three weeks.
Arizona law defines manslaughter as an act "recklessly causing the death of another person."
Grant faces up to 12 1/2 years in prison when he is sentenced. He also is eligible for probation.
Because the jurors aren't speaking publicly yet (they still have to decide whether certain facts exist that could spell a longer prison sentence for Grant), it remains to be seen how they specifically came to that conclusion.
The Grant investigation became known as the Mormon Murder Case because Faylene Grant was a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Say Saints who, according to evidence, apparently believed that she, Doug, and Hilary would live together as man and wives in the after-life. In a letter to Doug and Hilary shortly before her death, she requested that the pair marry immediately after her death, which she apparently felt was imminent.
Doug and Hilary wed one month after Faylene died in September 2001.
Sheriff's deputies handcuffed the weeping Grant and escorted him to a holding cell immediately after the court clerk read the verdict in Judge Meg Mahoney's courtroom.
Predictably, the scene in the standing-room-only courtroom was rife with drama -- several jurors reached for the Kleenex box as the verdict was being read, as did several people seated in the gallery..
We have written extensively on this tragic, complex, and bizarre case, and will be doing a postmortem cover story on the trial and its implications. (See our earlier cover stories on the case here
Until then, check out Valley Fever for updates in the Doug Grant saga.