Curtis Vance Convicted in Murder of Anchorwoman Anne Pressly

Convicted of capital murder, Curtis Vance could face death penalty.

ByABC News via logo
November 2, 2009, 1:38 PM

Nov. 12, 2009— -- Less than a week since emotional testimony began, a jury found Curtis Vance guilty in the rape and beating death of popular Little Rock, Ark., anchorwoman Anne Pressly today.

After the verdict was read, Pressly's mother, Patti Cannady, reportedly raised her hand and said, "Praise God. Praise God," before bursting into tears. The jury took less than two hours to decide Vance's guilt, Arkansas Online reported.

Prosecutors told the jurors in the trial that DNA evidence proved that Vance, 29, was the one who broke into Pressly's home last October and savagely beat and raped her until she was unconscious. Pressly died five days later.

The jury must now decide whether Vance should face the death penalty or life in prison, the Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors said the DNA evidence also linked Vance to another attack, the rape of schoolteacher Kristen Edwards of Marianna, Ark., about 100 miles away. The defense argued that police duped Vance into giving several contradictory confessions regarding the attack on Pressly.

Cannady found her daughter lying unconscious, bloodied and beaten "beyond recognition" in her home. Cannady was among the first witnesses to take the stand.

From the witness stand, Cannady stared down at Vance and then, choking back tears, described the nightmare of discovering her daughter's battered body.

"It was horrific," she told the jury. "I absolutely could not take the scene in. I could not imagine what I was seeing when I found my daughter."

Pressly was a popular morning news anchor in Little Rock. Before the attack, her parents used to call at 3 a.m. to make sure she was awake. But on the morning of Oct. 20, 2008, after repeated calls, there was no answer. Frantic, Cannady rushed to her daughter's home.

She found the back door wide open and, inside, her daughter was gasping for breath in a pool of blood.

"It was Anne, but she was so swollen and her hair was completely matted with blood, she was beyond recognition," Cannady said. "There was blood on the ceiling. That's how horrific her attack was."

A nurse who also testified told the court she had never seen anyone so badly wounded who was still alive.

In opening statements, prosecutors told jurors that DNA evidence would provide all the proof necessary to convince them that Vance is guilty and also linked to another brutal rape. The defense said Vance was arrested only because police were under pressure to arrest someone in connection with Pressly's death.

Cannady had said previously she was determined to look her daughter's murderer in the eye.

"I am not leaving," she said. "I will see this person eye-to-eye. They'll have to face me. And God."