9-year-old writes statement to mother's convicted killer

Eddie Marshall leaves the courtroom after his sentencing
Eddie Marshall leaves the courtroom after his sentencing
Heather and her son Gavin.
Heather and her son Gavin.

After more than four years of waiting, finally some justice for a Heartland family.

Eddie Marshall, found guilty of murdering 25-year-old Heather Donnell of Doniphan in 2007, was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday.

"It was the best we could get," said Sherri Donnell, Heather's mother. Donnell has said she wanted prosecutors to ask for the death penalty. "I'm just glad it's over. It's been four years and three months."

In May, a Howell County jury found Marshall guilty of first degree murder.

Prosecutors say Heather Donnell, 25, was the victim of a brutal rape and killing. Heather's body was discovered in her neighbor, Eddie Marshall's, trailer. The scene was so horrific investigators say they had to identify Heather's body by a tattoo on her ankle.

"I just want to ask him why," said Sherri Donnell. "I still don't know why."

Marshall quickly became the prime suspect. Police found him in Arkansas and charged him with Donnell's murder.

Diane Silman's, Heather's son Gavin's grandmother, read a statement from the nine-year-old written to Marshall at the sentencing.  Gavin is suffering from a brain tumor.

"I am nine years old now and I miss my mom," read Diane Silman. "She's watching over me from Heaven. One night when I was five my mom didn't come home from work."

"We just found out my tumor was growing again and I would need more treatment," Silman read. "I stopped by and said hi to my mom at Casey's that night after church. I told her I loved her and she loved me. That was the last time I saw my mom. Our neighbor Eddie killed my mom. I thought he was our friend," Silman read to the courtroom. "Why would he kill my mom?"

To the entire family, life in prison isn't enough.

"He's just an animal," said Terry Donnell, Heather's father. "There's no way he should live another day."

Marshall also asked to address the court he told the judge.

"It was your job to see I received a fair trial and you failed to do so," Marshall said.

Now, the family says they are focused on moving forward.

"We have to for Gavin," said Silman. "He's a neat little boy."

Marshall's first trial ended in a hung jury. The second trial was moved to Howell County on a change of venue.

Prosecutors say Marshall will be moved to Fulton before moving on to a maximum security prison.

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