OKLAHOMA CITY — A Cold Case verdict: Anthony Palma found guilty of first-degree murder.
Palma, 57, has been on trial for the disappearance of Kirsten Hatfield, the 8-year-old who vanished from her Midwest City home back in May 1997.
It took a jury just a little over one hour Friday to make the their recommendation of life in prison without parole.
Officials are still hopeful they’ll find Hatfield’s remains.
“Every lead that comes in, detectives will follow up. We’ll continue to look for her until we find her remains, or until this man’s heart softens enough, so that he sees to at least let us recover Kirsten’s remains. So far, we haven’t seen any kind of remorse or any kind of movement in that regard. But I am still hopeful that some day, we will,” said Scott Rowland, Assistant District Attorney.
Kirsten’s sister, Faith Daniels, was just 3 years old when her big sister was abducted.
Daniels and her mother, Shannon Hazen, were visibly emotional after the verdict, thanking everyone for helping close the case.
Palma remained emotionless, avoiding questions when he was released back into custody. He turned and looked away from News 4’s cameras once he stepped inside the elevator.
But Kirsten’s family had a different emotion. They cried happy tears and hugged as they walked out of the courtroom.
“It’s just amazing. And I’m so grateful”, said Daniels.
“We are just, I can’t explain it, we are just floored by this miracle and we are so thankful and it puts our hope back into the criminal justice system,” said Hazen.
The prosecution’s strongest evidence was Palma’s DNA found in Kirsten’s underwear and on her bedroom window.
The defense tried to discredit that evidence, but jury didn’t buy it.
Palma’s sentencing hearing is November 27 at 9 a.m.