Ronald Reed will have to serve at least 17½ years in the St. Paul officer's murder. "Today I feel comfort," said Jeanette Sackett-Monteon, the slain officer's widow.
Ronald Reed received a life sentence Wednesday for the murder of St. Paul police officer James Sackett. But Jeanette Sackett-Monteon told Reed in court that she had received her own life sentence long ago.
The fatal ambush that killed Sackett, she said, "took away my husband, my lover, my best friend. But most of all it took away my children's father. ...
"I had to live with 36 years of crying, of pain, of missing Jim. Today, I feel comfort."
The unsolved case of who killed James Sackett ended Wednesday when a Ramsey County jury convicted Reed, 55, of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the killing of the St. Paul police officer.
It was a day of reckoning for Reed, a Chicago pipefitter who prosecutors said advocated killing a police officer to get national attention for his group of young St. Paul black radicals.
For Sackett-Monteon and her four fatherless children, however, it was perhaps the first day of consolation since the officer was cut down by a sniper's bullet shortly after midnight on May 22, 1970.
Reed sat quietly with hands folded and showed no emotion as Ramsey County Chief District Judge Gregg Johnson read the jury's guilty verdicts. An hour later, Johnson sentenced Reed to life in prison.
Under 1970 sentencing standards, Reed must serve at least 17½ years before he can ask for parole.
Before he was sentenced, Reed called the convictions "unjust."
But he added: "If my unjust conviction brings consolation and closure to officer Sackett's legacy and beloved family, then I accept the consequences gladly and without malice toward anyone."
Jurors announced at 3 p.m. that they had arrived at a verdict, after perhaps a dozen hours of deliberation on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Juror Raymond Cleveland, 45, of St. Paul, compared the prosecution's case to "a pile that was building and just got bigger."
According to Cleveland, the first vote taken when deliberations began found seven jurors voting to convict and five undecided.
By Wednesday morning, 10 jurors favored conviction. The final two holdouts moved to convict after the jury listened again to a tape of Reed's then-girlfriend, Connie Trimble, placing the fake emergency call that lured Sackett to his death.
Defense attorneys John Pecchia and Marcus Almon said Reed's convictions will be appealed. "It was a difficult case," Pecchia said.
Reed's family members said they had no comment to make as they left the courtroom.
Prosecutors Susan Hudson and Jeffrey Paulsen said they could not comment about the verdicts because of the scheduled April 10 trial of Larry L. Clark, who is accused of participating in Sackett's murder along with Reed. Clark, 55, who lives in the Twin Cities, faces the same charges as Reed.
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