Sandra Halat sat on her mother's back porch. She carefully molded clay into a fish sculpture. Art it Mrs. Halat's passion. She believes art saved her sanity six years ago, when a federal jury said her husband had a role in the conspiracy to kill the Sherrys. "I would probably be in a sanitarium somewhere, a nut house or something," she said.
Art gave Halat a chance to do "all kinds of painting to get out my frustrations, say what I want to say through my art."
On Sunday, Mrs. Halat left her artwork at home, so she could visit Pete Halat in prison. She said the former Biloxi mayor briefly talked about the federal indictment against Oliver Diaz and four others. "He said, 'No matter what happens, his life is ruined.'"
But what about the families of a defendant -- what happens to their lives at home and at work? Mrs. Halat said, "It's one of those things, it's either going to make a family stronger, or just break it apart."
In Halat's case, the family seems stronger. Sandra Halat is now teaching art classes on the coast. She has a perspective about federal court that she wanted to share with the families tied to the judicial probe. "They really need to stick close together, support each other," she said. "It's going to be hard. But as long as you have that support, and friends, good friends, you can get through a lot."
Pete Halat has been in jail since 1997. He's still 12 years away from getting out of prison.