Randall Joey Futch Jr. was sentenced to 30 years in prison Monday by Liberty County Superior Court Judge Paul Rose.
Futch was found guilty in October of aggravated battery and theft as a result of the death of his former roommate, Dana Zeigler, who was found dead at her Midway home in December, 2014.
Futch had been charged with murder, manslaughter and aggravated assault, but the jury found him not guilty on those charges. During Monday’s sentencing hearing Zeigler’s family and friends spoke on her behalf, saying the justice system failed her.
Zeigler’s best friend of 26 years, Susan Marshall, said the trial was a travesty of justice and that the District Attorney’s Office and investigators with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office failed to have certain evidence tested and presented a weak case.
“She was a sweet and giving person,” Marshall said. “Always there when I needed her….I feel the guilt of not being there for her when she needed me the most…the system failed her.”
Marshall said she was appalled at what she said was a shoddy investigation.
“No testing done,” she said and added she felt pertinent information was withheld from the jurors during trial. “Dana deserved better…the jury got this one wrong…I know it was Randall Joey Futch Jr., and because of him I am left heartbroken and devastated.
Zeigler’s sister-in-law, Angela Dombkowski, also blamed investigators and prosecutors, saying Futch got away with murder.
“During the trial it was all about protecting the rights of a criminal,” she said. “People did not do their jobs in prosecuting the case.”
Zeigler’s daughter, Danielle Jones, cried on the stand. She said this past Mother’s Day was difficult after the family received a letter from Futch. She said he wrote the letter while he was in jail, and that he described in detail how he hit and choked her mother.
Futch’s attorney asked Liberty County Sheriff’s Detective Tracy Jennings if they investigated other suspects.
Jennings said Futch mentioned there were two men in the neighborhood he suspected, but Jennings said Futch was not able to provide names of the two men and there were inconsistencies in his story.
At Monday’s sentencing Futch addressed the court, saying he agrees that Zeigler deserved better. He said police failed to test a rape kit and failed to follow up information he gave them about a parolee who he says has been missing since the night of the murder.
“I know in my heart that I am not a murderer…evidence was downplayed…she deserved to have the rape kit tested…if the evidence had been processed right…there would have been no trial,” Futch said.
Rose addressed the family, saying he understood how difficult things have been. He noted that the justice system is not perfect.
“It is run by people and we as people are not perfect,” he said, and added that the prosecutors and investigators did their job to the best of their abilities.
Rose called Futch’s actions when he attacked Zeigler heinous and sentenced Futch to 20 years, the maximum allowed.
He then sentenced Futch to 10 years for the theft and ordered the sentences run consecutively, meaning Futch is sentenced to 30 years.