After deliberating almost 10 hours over two days, a Richland County jury has found confessed Internet romance killer Theodore Manning guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the 2009 death of Nikki McPhatter, a Charlotte airlines employee.
Judge Thomas Cooper announced that a sentencing hearing will get underway before 3 p.m. The jury of seven men and five women returned its verdict at 2:35 p.m. in a third-floor courtroom at the Richland County courthouse.
Under state law, Cooper could sentence Manning to as much as 30 years in prison or as few as two.
Prosecutors had sought to convince the jury that Manning was guilty of murder, which carries a much harsher sentence 30 years to life without parole in prison.
The verdict climaxed a hard-fought, nine-day trial over in one of the most sensational, widely publicized murder cases in Richland County in recent years.