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Natson sentenced to life, no parole for murder of Ardena Carter

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Posted: March 20, 2007 5:33 p.m.
Updated: April 4, 2007 5:00 a.m.
A federal judge sentenced Michael Antonio Natson to life without parole for killing the mother of his alleged child, as well as the unborn fetus.
    A jury found Natson, 26, guilty last week of murdering Ardena Marie Carter, a pregnant Georgia Southern University student whose family said was Natson's girlfriend.
    Natson was found guilty on charges of guilty Friday of murder, feticide and possession of a weapon during the commission of murder.
    During the sentencing hearing, Natson "did not take the opportunity to speak," said Statesboro Police Det. Terry Briley, who testified during the trial and was key investigator in what started out as a missing persons case in 2003, but was soon afterward ruled murder when Carter's remains, as well as those of her unborn child, were found by hunters in some woods near Ft. Benning.
    Natson was an active-duty soldier stationed at Ft. Benning at the time. The case was  handled in federal court because Carter was killed on a U. S. military reservation.
    Briley said Carter's mother, Diane Croomes, took the stand during the sentencing proceedings and "forgave him."
    Carter's sister Gail Goodwin also forgave Natson for killing her sister and expressed compassion for Natson's family as well, he said. Both Goodwin and Croomes said they were grateful for the outpouring of support including "numerous letters, cards and financial support" from friends, well-wishers and members of Carter's church family during the three-year ordeal between Carter's disappearance and Natson's conviction.
    "I feel elated. Relieved," Goodwin said upon hearing Natson's conviction announced. "It's been a long, tedious journey to get this far. This was hard for both families. Both families suffered a tremendous loss."
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