Nelson family members speak out at VanDyke sentencing - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Nelson family members speak out at VanDyke sentencing

Rogrick VanDyke was convicted of second degree murder which brings an automatic sentence of life in prison.But his sentencing was an opportunity for family members of the victim to tell the court how Rhonda Nelson's death has devastated their lives. "October 14th, Rogrick VanDyke was convicted of the murder of Rhonda Nobles Nelson-- and on this is sentencing day, family members poured their hearts out to the court."

Nelson's death devastated family members--especially her daughter Jontrece Nobles, just 25 years old. She says her mother was her best friend and an angel to everyone. "I'm just happy that the judge gave him life without the possibility of parole because I feel like my mom had a death sentence and that's his death sentence. He'll never be able to walk among, like my uncle said, civilized humans again."

She says the murder has caused her immeasurable heartache, pain, resentment and anger... Phyllis Beroit was Rhonda's cousin, but they were like sisters. "In the last three years it has not been Christmas. I have not even spent Christmas with them because I can't, couldn't get around her not being there."

 Sister in law Aimee Nobles describes Rhonda as the glue that held the family together. "It's so important for you to have a mom. The other girls are not going to have their mom there to walk them down the aisle, their mom there just to give them advice. My children aren't going to have their aunt there anymore. We have three children and they're just not going to have their aunt and so it's a total devastation. I mean she was just ripped away from us."

As well, Jontrece suffers from sickle cell anemia and now must deal with it without her mom's support. Said Beroit, "Her mom was always there for her through all the hospital and blood transfusions and everything. She always had her mom. And I know it's very difficult for her now, to go through that, without her mom."

 But family members say they are relieved that VanDyke has been sentenced to life in prison and hopeful they will be able to begin to move ahead with their lives. Defense motions for a new trial and to find VanDyke not guilty due to inadequate evidence were denied by Judge Clayton Davis. The defense plans to appeal.

Copyright 2011 KPLC. All rights reserved

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