A Lawrence man was sentenced Thursday to more than 48 years in prison for killing his girlfriend by beating her with a table leg.
District Court Judge Jack Murphy sentenced Christopher Belone, 36, to 586 months in prison for the second-degree murder of Linda Begay, who died of an abdominal infection in July. She died days after Belone struck her in the stomach with a coffee table leg during a beating at Gaslight Village mobile home park, 1900 W. 31st St.
Belone choked up in the courtroom as he apologized to members of Begay's family, who traveled from New Mexico to attend the sentencing.
"I'm sorry that I wasn't man enough to have a good family," Belone said. "I did love her ... I just ask for forgiveness."
Begay's brother, Leroy, said he hoped the death would be a "milestone" for the community in awareness of domestic violence, which he said affects people of all classes, races and religions.
"You deserve to be punished," he said to Belone. "You brutally murdered our sister in a cruel way."
Murphy denied defense attorney Greg Robinson's request to break from state sentencing guidelines and give Belone a sentence of roughly 18 years. The guidelines called for a standard 586-month sentence because of the severity of the crime and Belone's criminal history.
Robinson argued that Begay could have recovered from her injuries if she had received stronger medical treatment at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where she stayed for several days before being transported to Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center in Topeka.
"It's certainly an injury that could have been corrected if proper medical attention had been provided to her," he said. "This was a death from infection that no one treated."
But assistant district attorney Trent Krug argued the facts of the case didn't justify a lighter sentence.
"Ms. Begay did not perish quickly," Krug said. "She died an excruciating death over the course of three days."
Belone also was convicted of kidnapping, obstruction and violation of a protective order. Murphy ordered that Belone serve those sentences at the same time as his sentence for murder.
Before the sentencing, Murphy denied Robinson's request for a new trial. Robinson alleged that a juror had committed misconduct by not disclosing that Belone and Begay's son was one of her students in an elementary school music class.
Murphy said that after reviewing the record and questioning the juror under oath, he found no evidence of misconduct or that the relationship affected the verdict. During jury selection, attorneys didn't ask potential jurors whether they knew the boy, Murphy said.
Belone's mother now has custody of the couple's son.