‘Can You Remember Her Screams?’ — Dale Wayne Eaton Finally Sentenced
Seventeen years ago, in a Natrona County courtroom, Sheila Kimmell confronted the man who brutally raped her daughter for at least six days and then murdered her.
She's counted the days that have passed — 6,511.
On Friday, Shelia Kimmell found herself back in a Natrona County courtroom, once again confronting Dale Wayne Eaton. Friday marked another significant anniversary for Sheila Kimmel: 34 years since her daughter, Lisa Marie Kimmell went missing.
Eight days after she disappeared, a fisherman found Lisa Marie Kimmell's body floating brutally raped and murdered in the North Platte River near Government Bridge.
Eaton was convicted in 2004 for the 1988 rape and murder of Lisa Marie Kimmell thanks to DNA evidence and her vehicle being found buried on Eaton's property. He was sentenced to death the following year.
What followed was a protracted appeals battle over Eaton's death sentence. In November last year, both prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed Eaton was not competent to go through with a death penalty trial.
Seventeen years later, he was once again sentenced, this time to life without parole.
During Friday's hearing, Sheila Kimmell described 17 years — 6,511 days — of agony for her and her family since she last confronted Eaton.
"You wouldn't look at us at that time," Sheila Kimmell said. "You not only took Lisa's life away, you took part of our lives away."
On March 25, 1988, Stacy Pitts' learned her sister, Lisa Marie Kimmell, had gone missing. Thirty-four years later she once again addressed Eaton in a Natrona County courtroom.
"I was 13-years-old when my sister was killed," Pitts said. "I am so angry I had to grow up much faster than other 13-year-olds.
"She would have been such a wonderful mother. She never got to meet her nephews."
Sheila Kimmell said asking for the death penalty was the hardest decision her family ever had to make. They would have been agreeable to a life sentence had only Eaton asked for forgiveness. Sheila Kimmell also said Lisa Marie Kimmel wasn't Eaton's first victim, nor was she her last.
Instead, Sheila Kimmell said, her family had to endure a 17-year-long legal battle. Over that time, Eaton suffered multiple strokes.
A court filing last year states Eaton has for years exhibited signs of brain deterioration, including becoming confused and disoriented. He also told an examiner he was 10 years older than his actual age.
"Congratulations Mr. O'Brien (Eaton's attorney)," Sheila Kimmell said. "You won by default and running out the clock."
As Eaton looked down at the defense table, Sheila Kimmel continued:
"Can you remember Lisa's face? Can you remember her cries? Can you remember her tears? Can you remember her screams? Can you remember the fear in her eyes? Can you remember her pain? Can you remember her last breath? Can you remember her last heartbeat?"
Before he was sentenced, Judge Daniel Forgey gave Eaton an opportunity to make a statement. At first he declined, but after conferring with his attorneys, he agreed to make a statement through his lead counsel.
"He wants to say he's sorry," his attorney said.