A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury this afternoon convicted Glenn Hansen of first-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend and burying her body in New Jersey's Pine Barrens in 2005.
The 12 jurors returned their verdict on the second day of deliberations after weighing the case for about two hours Monday.
Hansen, 47, of Overbrook, was charged with murder and abuse of a corpse in the death of Taneke Daniels, 27. Authorities alleged he smothered her to stop her from testifying against him in a domestic-abuse hearing.
Judge Shelley Robins New set sentencing for Wednesday morning although that will be a formality. A first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.
Gail Daniels, the victim's mother, who daily attended the five-day trial, began quietly weeping as the verdict was announced.
"I'm just glad it's over," Daniels said afterward. "I'm just glad he got his just desserts."
Hansen's attorneys argued that Daniels died of a drug overdose after a three-day binge on alcohol and cocaine with Hansen, and that he panicked and secretly buried her.
Hansen did not testify in his defense.
Defense lawyer Timothy J. Tarpey and cocounsel Michael P. Parkinson presented one defense witness: forensic pathologist Paul J. Hoyer.
Hoyer contradicted the prosecution's forensic pathologist, saying Daniels' corpse was too decomposed for a determination that she had been slain. He said he would classify the cause of death as undetermined.
Hansen's defense largely focused on his sister, Kelly Hansen, 41, who testified under a grant of immunity that her brother had confided that he smothered Daniels.
Kelly Hansen testified that she twice joined her brother in 2005 to visit Daniels' grave in a heavily wooded, remote part of the Brendan T. Byrne State Forest in Woodland Township, Burlington County.
In his closing, Tarpey said Kelly Hansen falsely incriminated her brother because she feared being charged as an accessory. Tarpey insisted that Kelly Hansen's first statement to police - she said her brother had said Daniels died of an overdose - was the only true one.
"After a three-day drug binge, my client foolishly listened to the advice of his sister and then together they went and buried the body in the Pine Barrens," Tarpey said.
Assistant District Attorney Gail Fairman had urged the jury to convict Hansen of first-degree murder. She said that Hansen's prior abuse of Daniels proved he was willing to use physical force against her and that he had told several people he feared going to prison if she testified at the abuse hearing.
Fairman told the jury that Daniels' family had seen Hansen pick her up in South Philadelphia on May 11, 2005, the last time they saw her alive.