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UPDATE: Verdict Reached in Vestal Trial

A Swain County jury finds former jailer Anita Vestal guilty of helping a murder suspect escape.

Jurors found her guilty of aiding and abetting, obstruction of justice, harboring an escapee, and giving jail keys to Jeffrey Miles. Miles is accused of killing Scott Wiggins and Michael Compton in Bryson City in 2008.

"She never denied she was guilty of these particular offenses. It was the accessories we were fighting over and were happy the jury saw it our way on that," said Vestals attorney Chris Siewers.

Jurors found Vestal not guilty of accessory after the fact of murder. Charges that could have yielded stiffer penalties than she received.  After the verdicts, the judge imposed Vestals sentences.

"She will serve a sentence. It's 24 months minimum followed by 10 months minimum followed by another 120 days. So the minimum she will serve is 38 months," said Siewers.

Vestal traveled to California with Miles, but they were captured a month later.

Her father says the verdict was arrived at fairly by the jury. But he says he still isn't sure what motivated his daughters actions.

"A friend of mine told me one time don't ask questions about these things because really there is no answer and I don't have the answer. It happened. I'm sorry that it did," said Ronnie Blythe.

Vestals former boss, Sheriff Curtis Cochran says Vestal abused her position and is glad to see resolution.

"It's been like an open wound. Hopefully it will mend the wound and we can move forward from here," said Cochran.

Scott Wiggins sisters say after a long five years, they're glad to see the person responsible for freeing the man who killed their brother finally face justice.

"As long as she's serving some time, that's all we wanted I guess," said Diane Wiggins.

"I won't say relieved yet. You get all these emotions; you have to go through after all this is done," said Christie Jones.

Vestal and her attorney have ten days to file an appeal.

By Rex Hodge

Follow Rex on Twitter @RexHodgeWLOS


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