A local judge sentenced a 28-year-old man to 20 years in prison for the beating and choking death of his wife.
John "Budweiser" Wiser pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder and related charges in the killing of his wife, 31-year-old Shannon Wiser.
Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern ruled that Wiser must serve 100 percent of the 20-year sentence due to the nature of the crime. He has been in jail custody since his September 2010 arrest and will receive credit for that time toward his sentence.
Prosecutors originally charged Wiser with first-degree murder, which carries a possible life sentence.
On Wednesday, he answered judge and attorney questions briefly, with a "yes" or "no," and made no other statements during the proceeding.
Assistant District Attorney Brian Finlay said after the hearing that the evidence in the case supported the crime of second-degree murder and that would likely have been the result of a trial.
"Mr. Wiser didn't get any breaks based on his plea," Finlay said. "It was more appropriately a second-degree murder case and that's what he pleaded guilty to."
Finlay said that, throughout the process, he talked with family and friends of Shannon Wiser, who said they wanted closure and the most effective end to the ordeal.
"I was very angry, I wanted life," said Stephanie Jarrell, a friend of the victim. "But (Finlay) was very clear about why and how it works and in a court of law what we'd have to prove."
Jarrell, one of five of Shannon's friends who awaited Wiser's guilty plea, at times wiped away tears during the 20-minute hearing.
Stephanie Jarrell and her husband, Mike, said the plea will keep Shannon Wiser's 10-year-old son, who witnessed his mother's death, from having to testify.
"Don't put him through that a year and a half after he lost his mom," Stephanie Jarrell said.
Witnesses told police that Wiser was first officially charged with beating Shannon after he came home on Sept. 4, 2010, to find her with a group of friends examining her new body piercing in their 3531 Sleepy Hollow Road home.
He began pushing and hitting Shannon and her friends, who fled and called police. Shannon Wiser stayed with Stephanie Jarrell for a few days afterward.
Police could not find Wiser and, on Sept. 7, 2010, he returned to his home and attacked Shannon, slamming her head against a wall and choking her as her 10- and 6-year-old sons watched.
She died five days later of a brain stem hemorrhage as a result of the beating.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...