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Murder verdict brings gruesome trial to end

March 02, 2000

Paul M. Anderson

LOS ANGELES -- A former California Highway Patrol dispatcher was

convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder in the brutal slaying of his

ex-girlfriend.

Jurors took just more than a day to reach the verdict against Anthony

Roy Shivers. His guilt was never in question since Deputy Public Defender

Alan Gelfand conceded his client killed Glendale resident Jeanette Cohen

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on Aug. 10, 1997. What was at issue was whether Shivers was guilty of

first- or second-degree murder.

Shivers faces 25 years to life in prison with the possibility of

parole when he returns to Superior Court Judge James M. Ideman's

courtroom March 22 for sentencing. A second-degree murder verdict would

have carried a penalty of 15 years to life in prison. Prosecutor Ernie

Norris said Shivers will likely spend the rest of his life in prison

since the state's parole review board has for decades rejected parole for

those with life sentences.

"I know nothing will ever bring my daughter back, but we're hopeful

now he'll get the maximum sentence," said Jeanette Cohen's mother Yolanda

Roeber.

"We know that someday he'll face a higher authority and the punishment

will be a lot worse," said Jeanette's brother Ron Cohen. "The Lord says,

'Vengeance is Mine' and He will repay. That's what keeps us going."

Ron Cohen's wife, Angie, recently found out she is pregnant and plans

to name the child Jeanette if it's a girl.

Half the members of the jury thought Shivers was guilty of

second-degree murder at first, but changed their minds the more they

studied the legal definitions of first- and second-degree murder, said

jury foreman Barry Berman.

The convincer was a line from a 4-page letter Shivers wrote

illustrating in grisly detail how he choked Jeanette Cohen several times

into unconsciousness before fracturing her skull with a 10-pound weight

and stuffing her almost lifeless body into a computer box.

"Kept procrastinating the rope deal," Shivers wrote, referring to his

attempts to strangle Cohen. That was the line that convinced Juror Donna

Sanders to switch her vote from second- to first-degree murder because it

indicated Shivers spent time thinking about murdering Cohen instead of

killing her in a moment of passion as Gelfand argued.

Cohen's friends and family, who attended the weeklong trial, were

disappointed Ideman dismissed a torture allegation against Shivers on

Monday because that left the murderer ineligible for the death penalty or

life in prison without a chance for parole. But they were relieved

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