Sanders Found Guilty Of Murder; Gets Life Sentence

HANCOCK COUNTY (WLOX) -- A jury on Wednesday found Edna Mae Sanders guilty of murder in the death of her husband Sherman Sanders. Sanders died in August 2006, after his wife doused him with boiling cooking oil.

The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes. Judge Steve Simpson sentenced Sanders to Life in Prison without the possibility of parole.

Earlier on Wednesday, Sanders took the stand in her own defense, explaining abuse led her to throw hot oil on her husband.

The Diamondhead woman painted a history of abuse in her short marriage to Sherman Sanders, which culminated with a fight on the night of July 27, 2006. Sanders testified an argument about her daughter escalated into a physical fight. She told the jury Sherman Sanders was choking her, hitting her and throwing her around "like a rag doll."

What the jury did not hear was Sanders' allegations that her husband sexually abused her daughter, who was 13 at the time. Judge Steve Simpson instructed Defense Attorney Brian Alexander that he could not bring up those allegations, even though the defense contends that is what led Edna Sanders to pour hot oil on her husband.

Alexander led Sanders through the events of that night. Sanders testified once the physical fight ended, she told her husband she was calling the police. Sanders then blurted out that her husband threatened her life, saying, "I'm going to kill you, bitch." Judge Simpson did not allow that testimony about the threat and instructed the jury to disregard it.

The jury did hear Edna Sanders describe running to the kitchen, grabbing the pot of oil from the stove and running down the hall to find her husband in the bedroom. Sanders testified that once she was in the bedroom, her husband reached across the bed for a gun and pointed it at her. That's when Sanders says she threw the boiling oil on her husband.

Edna Sanders became emotional at times describing the abuse she says she endured in just four months of marriage. She described a personality change in Sherman Sanders after Hurricane Katrina, calling him "like a Jekyll and Hyde." She attributed some of Sherman Sanders' stress from losing his grandmother in New Orleans, who died during the storm, and the death of his mother a short time later.

"He would laugh and smile in public, but when he got inside the door, he was a different person," Edna Sanders said.

Sanders' claims of her abuse were supported by her daughter, now 15, who also testified Tuesday. But the girl was not allowed to be questioned about whether she was ever abused by her stepfather.

Edna Sanders' daughter also backed up her mother's testimony that Sherman Sanders hit Edna's six-year-old autistic son on many occasions.

On cross examination, Assistant District Attorney Chris Fisher questioned why, if Edna Sanders was in fear for her life on the night of July 27, 2006, she didn't go out the kitchen door to get away, instead of following Sherman Sanders to the bedroom with the pot of hot oil. Fisher also asked why none of the abuse had been reported.

Edna Sanders told the jury she blamed her husband's stress and believed they could work things out.