First Assistant District Attorney Nichole Smith said the man is looking at 20 years to 40 years in prison.

ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man accused of having killed his wife in 2015 and abandoning her body in a garage where it was found six months later has been convicted of third-degree murder.

The (Altoona) Mirror reports Michael Copley, 33, was also convicted Friday in Blair County of aggravated assault and related charges but acquitted of first-degree murder in the death of 29-year-old Catherine Copley. Jurors deliberated for about six hours in the case.

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Prosecutors said Copley killed his wife at their Altoona home in December 2015, then used a friend’s vehicle to take her body to a garage behind a vacant house, where it was found six months later by two young men visiting a relative nearby. Witnesses testified that death was likely due to asphyxiation, perhaps through strangulation.

Defense attorney Richard Corcoran said he will be speaking with his client about appealing the convictions. In his closing argument, Corcoran told jurors that even if they concluded Michael Copley killed his wife, they should also conclude the killing was unintentional.

First Assistant District Attorney Nichole Smith said Copley is looking at 20 years to 40 years in prison on the third-degree murder conviction and the judge could add more time for the convictions on burglary, abuse of a corpse, evidence-tampering and criminal use of a communication device.

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Prosecutors acknowledged during the trial that their case was circumstantial with no witnesses to the killing or the defendant’s alleged efforts to dispose of the body. Their 30 witnesses were supplemented by DNA evidence and computerized software tracking data.

Smith wound up her closing argument referring to the victim as the prosecution’s star witness, based on the defendant’s DNA being found under the fingernails of her right hand. Smith said the evidence remained even after six months in an unheated garage, and said “I submit that Cathy Copley is telling us who murdered her.”

“I hope he rots in the jail cell,” Catherine Copley’s sister, Amy Boob of Altoona, said outside the courthouse after the verdict was announced.

“I do, too,” said Catherine Boob of Altoona, the mother of Catherine Copley. “I pray to God that he sees Cathy’s face every day of his life and knows what he did to her.”

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