Update: Man sentenced to life for murdering wife - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Update: Man sentenced to life for murdering wife

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

A jury convicts a Valdosta man of murdering his wife, and the judge sentences him to life in prison.

The jury in Wayne Luberda's murder trial deliberated for an hour late yesterday and two more hours today before reaching their verdict.

Luberda hit his wife Maria in the head last October then hid her body inside their closet.

Police found the body several days later after concerned neighbors called them.

Luberda could be eligible for parole in 30 years.

 

 


 

A Valdosta man, accused of murdering his wife and hiding her body, is on trial now.

Valdosta Police found Maria Luberda's badly decomposed body in a closet of the couple's mobile home last October.

Neighbors say they smelled the stench from the driveway of Wayne Luberda's mobile home. Valdosta police found Maria Rojas Luberda's body wrapped inside a blanket stuffed inside the couple's closet. Today, Luberda hung his head as autopsy photos were shown in court.

"We kind of look out for each other in this neighborhood, we all pretty much know each other so, there's very few people on this street," said Sharon Henkelman who lives on Wilkerson Avenue.

Henkelman says people on the street rarely saw Maria leave the house, but says she was a talented painter.

"She's going to be missed because she was an artist, and us in the art world were all going to miss her," said Henkelman.

Luberda claimed his wife fell and hit her head on a counter, but a medical examiner testified a laceration on her head was so severe that hitting her head on a counter could not have caused it. The defense claims the couple was arguing when Maria came at her husband with a knife, she hit the counter and fell to the floor.

According to police, neighbors saw the Luberda's dog wandering on their property for days, which alerted them to call the police.

Valdosta Police Commander Brian Childress says investigators were able to solve the case thanks to the neighbors.

"We're grateful that the neighbors called us, it's just sad that obviously it was too late, but there's nothing they could have done about that and there's nothing we could have done about that either," said Childress.

The medical examiner says Maria Luberda's body had been decomposing for three to five days and she died from a blunt force trauma.

If convicted, Wayne Luberda faces life in prison.

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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