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Husband found guilty of second-degree-murder

By Mahsa Saeidi, Reporter
Published On: Aug 30 2012 03:28:28 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 18 2012 09:26:55 AM CDT
ONSLOW COUNTY -

A jury found Howard Lee guilty late Friday of second-degree murder for the beating death of his wife.

According to the Jacksonville Daily News, he will be sentenced Monday morning. He could receive between 7 and 32 years in prison.

Lee, 62, lived with his wife Shirley Lee, 63, off of Blue Creek Road in Jacksonville.  Prosecutors say Lee beat his wife to death in their living room in Nov. 2010. But they say he didn't call deputies to his home until three days later.  That's when he told authorities he'd found his wife dead in her bed. 

Investigators allege Lee was attempting to cover up his crime.

In 2010, two of Lee's daughters - Kim Richards and Denise Syler - described to investigators a history of domestic violence directed towards their mother, according to deputies.  In written statements, Richards and Syler stated their father had previously hit and choked their mother.  However, on Thursday, both daughters testified on behalf of their father in court, saying they were emotional and under duress at that time. 

Richards testified she was very close with her mom, and that she was suicidal after her mother's death.

"When you're looking at me, you're looking at my mom," said Richards. 

Richards said her childhood was happy and her parents got along.

"They loved each other dearly," said Richards. 

Richards stated her father had hit her mom in 2008, but that he was very remorseful.  She stated her father called a family meeting, admitted to his wrong-doing and asked for forgiveness.

On the stand Thursday, Lee admitted to striking his wife in 2008.

The Jacksonville Daily News reports Lee told prosecutors his wife was ill and refused to take her medication. Lee stated she must have hit her head on accident and then went to bed. 

According to the N.C. Department of Corrections, Lee has no previous criminal record in North Carolina.  He served as a Marine for 17 years.