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Alabama Man Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murder Of Woman Missing Since 2006
Derrill Richard Ennis was found guilty on two counts of capital murder in the 2006 slaying of Lori Ann Slesinski, whose body has never been found. Police say she turned down his romantic overtures shortly before she went missing.
An Alabama man has been convicted in the murder of a missing woman who vanished 16 years ago and whose body has never been found, officials said.
Derrill Richard Ennis, 41, was found guilty on two counts of capital murder in the 2006 slaying of Lori Ann Slesinski on Thursday following two days of jury deliberations, CBS News reported. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to Georgia television station WTVM.
“I think we can all agree there should be no reward for someone who’s good at dumping a body,” Lee County District Attorney Jessica Ventiere said in court, the Opelika-Auburn News reported. "You should not get a prize for body disposal. You should be held accountable for their murder even though you were really good at dumping it."
Lee County prosecutors had sought the death penalty for Ennis.
Officials say Ennis murdered Slesinski, with whom he’d become obsessed, after she turned down his romantic advances. Slesinski was reported missing by her mother on June 13, 2006, and her vehicle was found torched and abandoned the following day.
Ennis, who left the area after detectives questioned him, wasn’t indicted in Slesinski's disappearance and death until 2018. Throughout the trial, Ennis denied killing Slesinski or hiding her corpse.
Prosecutors, however, pointed to a mountain of evidence linking him to the missing woman’s disappearance and murder.
Ennis’ semen was found inside the Alabama woman’s trailer and his DNA was collected from a hand-rolled cigarette found at the scene of her burnt-out car. Knives and handcuffs were retrieved from his vehicle. Scratches on Ennis’ arm, which prosecutors suspect were inflicted by Slesinski the day she was murdered, further implicated him in her death.
During trial, Ennis, who took the stand in his own defense, was grilled by prosecutors
“The blood in Lori’s trailer has your DNA in it,” Ventiere asked to Ennis on the stand, according to WTVM. “How did that get there?”
“I have no idea,” Ennis replied.
The 41-year-old repeatedly told the court he had nothing to do with Slesinski’s killing. Instead, he testified, he and Slesinski had consensual sex and that he last saw her when she left to purchase drugs.
“Where did you dump Lori’s body?” Ventiere asked him.
“I did not dump Lori’s body anywhere,” Ennis responded.
Ennis’ defense attorney accused investigators of planting evidence and was openly critical of cold case investigators’ motives during the trial proceedings.
“The 18-month investigation was not an investigation or reinvestigation of Lori,” said attorney Todd Crutchfield. “It was an investigation on Rick.”
Crutchfield wasn’t immediately available for comment on Friday morning when contacted by Oxygen.com.
Meanwhile, Slesinski’s family applauded the verdict this week.
“It’s been a difficult road, I won’t lie to y’all, but God has given me the strength to persevere,” Arlene Slesinski, the missing woman’s mother, told WTVM. “As long as he’s locked away for life, that’s all that matters to me."
"As long as he has no possibility of parole, we feel as if that’s the best decision," she added. "I don’t want to be dragged through this for the rest of my life.”