CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A man whose DNA linked him to the 1999 murder of a Charleston woman more than a decade later was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in prison.
Before hearing how much time he'd spend in prison for the death of Terry Clark, Daniel Richard Turner told Kanawha Circuit Judge James Stucky that he always knew that, one day, he'd have to pay for her murder.
"I prayed about it a long time; it never left my mind," Turner, 46, said. "I guess I couldn't bring myself to say someone needs to call the law because I've murdered someone."
Last month, Turner pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Clark, 41. Police found her strangled and nude on the side of U.S. 119 just outside Walton, in Roane County.
The judge gave Turner credit for the 146 days he already had served in jail after being charged. He has been in jail in Tennessee since 2004 on federal drug and weapons charges.
The judge said Turner's murder sentence could run at the same time as his federal sentence.
After the sentencing, Clark's family members said they felt some comfort in knowing who had killed her, even 14 years later.
"We didn't think it would ever be solved," said Sally Burger, Clark's first cousin.
Charleston police Lt. Steve Cooper also said he had had doubts over the years about the case. He remembered getting the call when Clark's body was found.
"As the years went on, you begin to worry -- I worried this would be one that we never solved," Cooper said after the sentencing.
Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Reagan Whitmyer read the judge a letter from Clark's stepmother, Ruth Clark, which said she watched Clark's father suffer over the years and eventually die last year not knowing who killed his daughter.
"I now have closure in the death of my stepdaughter. I may have the mystery solved of who, and perhaps why, but that doesn't erase the last 15 years of agony, stress, heartbreak, to name a few of the emotional areas I, along with her father, Paul Clark, have suffered," Whitmyer read, her voice sometimes trembling.
"In those 13 years, I watched my husband go through many nights and days of pure hell, not knowing why or who had murdered his daughter."