Families of murderer and his victim embrace in prayer

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The families of a convicted murderer and his victim came together in prayer moments after a Harrison County jury decided Timothy Ronk deserved to die for his crime. The decision came Friday night after more more than five hours of deliberation.

Timothy Ronk, 31, told the judge he had nothing to say after learning he'd be put to death for killing Michelle Craite at her Biloxi home back in 2008. Prosecutors say they believe the gruesome nature of the crime warranted the death penalty.

"In this case, it was clear cut. He stabbed a woman in back three times. Then set the house on fire, burning her in that fire at the same time," said Assistant District Attorney Alison Baker. "We had testimony from our forensic pathologist that she was alive and breathing at the time the fire was set. That in it of itself we thought was heinous."

Baker said Craite's body was so badly burned her family could not hold a viewing at her funeral.

In closing arguments of the sentencing phase, prosecutors urged the jury not to allow the defendant to use a bad childhood and a previous Bipolar diagnosis as a crutch, but the defense argued a chemical imbalance is to blame for a long history of rash, impulsive behavior.

"Timothy is not insane," said defense attorney Eric Geiss. "He is just incapable of what would in this situation be making a rational decision."

At the time of the murder, Craite had allowed Ronk to move into her home, and she had purchased him a car. Testimony in the trial revealed Ronk had met another woman on the Internet and was leaving Craite for that woman when a confrontation ended in her death.

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