"On the charge of aggravated murder against Howard Godfrey what is the jury's verdict?" asked Vt. District Court Judge Dennis Pearson.
"The jury finds the defendant guilty," answered the foreman.
Howard Godfrey, 60, showed no emotion as the jury declared him guilty of raping and murdering Patricia Scoville. For her parents sitting in the front row the verdict was the justice they had sought since their daughter was found murdered in a shallow grave at Moss Glen Falls in Stowe in 1991.
The crime went unsolved for 14 years until 2005, when DNA recovered from her body matched Godfrey's DNA taken from him after his conviction for another assault in 1996. There were so many DNA samples waiting to be tested that it took six years to make the match.
Godfrey claimed he had consensual sex with Scoville, but someone else killed her later.
Prosecutors told jurors it would be absurd to believe that Scoville would have sex with a man she had never met and then be killed a short time later by someone else.
It took the jury of eleven men and one woman less than two hours to find Godfrey guilty, triggering relief and hugs of congratulation for her parents, the police and prosecutors who worked the case for nearly 17 years.
"I think we're kind of numb. It's been a long time and it's hard to react in any way except to say we don't know how to react, first time we're ever been here like this. This chapter is over," said Patricia's father, Dave Scoville.
"I just feel like Patti had her day in court today. And I feel like hopefully justice has been served," said her mother, Ann.
"We feel great about the outcome. We're happy to be able to give this to the Scovilles. It's been a long 16 years. So we're very, very pleased with the verdict," said Prosecutor Cindy Maguire.
"It has been an emotional roller coaster on some level. We're finally glad to be here. It's been a long wait," said Stowe Police Det. Bruce Merriam.
Sentencing has not been scheduled. But there will be no surprises when it happens because Godfrey was found guilty of aggravated murder which carries an automatic sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.
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