Nathaniel Fujita sentenced to life without parole
WOBURN, Mass. (WHDH) -- On Thursday, a jury found Nathaniel Fujita guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Lauren Astley. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Lauren Astley’s parents delivered statements before the sentencing.
“There is hardly a day still after nearly two years when I and her mother don’t sob over some aspect of Lauren or the affronts that she experienced,” said Lauren’s father, Malcolm Astley.
Astley also called for resolve to counter the tragedy of his daughter’s death and pointed to a larger issue, in which “three women a day on average in our country are murdered by an intimate partner, supposedly in loving relationships.”
Lauren Astley’s mother was heavy with grief as she told the courtroom she will never be called mom again.
“As a divorced woman with no children, I face dying alone and that is scary,” said Dunne. “The image of her last excruciating minutes on earth will not leave me ever.”
The prosecution requested Fujita be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
“The people of Massachusetts deserve the deterrence provided by this sentence,” said the prosecutor.
The judge read aloud the jury's decision.
“This is a sad and tragic case. Many lives have been forever altered and one life, that of Lauren Astley has been forever lost,” said the judge. “The court must impose upon Fujita the most severe sentence authorized by the laws of our commonwealth; life in prison without the possibility of parole.”
Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone spoke after the verdict was read.
“The light is found in Lauren and will forever shine in our minds and our hearts,” D.A. Leone said.
The court also delivered concurrent sentences of not more than 10, no less than 9 years in state prison on each of his convictions for assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.
During the verdict, Lauren Astley's family cried and held hands. Fujita hung his head as the jury foreman announced he was found guilty on all counts: murder in the first degree, pre-meditated extreme cruelty, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Prosecutors said Fujita was angry because Astley had broken up with him. They said he stabbed and strangled Astley with a bungee cord, then left her body in a marsh a month after they graduated high school.
A forensic psychiatrist testifying for the defense said Fujita lacked the ability to know his actions were wrong due to depression, daily marijuana use and repeated brain injuries suffered playing football.
“We knew [a guilty verdict] was a possibility. We were hopeful that the jury would have been able to kind of understand the grasp and depth of mental illness and how it played into this case,” said William Sullivan, defense attorney.
A psychiatrist for the prosecution said Fujita acted out of rage and understood his actions.
The jury took seven hours over a two day period to reach the verdict.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.