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Verginia Turner She admitted beating Mark Hafen, but said it was in self-defense.

A Salinas woman convicted of killing her off-and-on boyfriend was handed the mandatory sentence of 25 years to life on Friday.

In December, jurors found Verginia Turner, 44, committed premeditated murder when she fatally bludgeoned family law attorney Mark Hafen with a metal bar in late August 2010.

Hafen was found dead Sept. 1, 2010, in his Carmelita Drive home in Salinas. On Sept. 2, police arrested Turner when she turned herself in for questioning.

Turner admitted beating Hafen, but said it was in self-defense after he had battered her for years.

Mark Hafen's sister, Alison, told the court that her brother helped Turner financially, and that he had tried "to free himself of Turner as early as 2006," prosecutor Elaine McCleaf said. "Turner, at today's sentencing hearing, maintained she was sorry for his death but that she was the victim in this case."

Hafen took out a restraining order against Turner in 2009, and in July 2010 legally evicted her from his house. By August, McCleaf said, Turner became jealous over a new girlfriend of Hafen's.

Police said Turner at first tried to blame the girlfriend's estranged husband for Hafen's death.

During the 2½-week trial, Turner's attorney, Deana Davis, said her client was a battered woman with a long history of being in abusive relationships and that Hafen controlled and intimidated her over the course of their six-year affair.


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Turner took the stand during her trial, at one point breaking down in uncontrollable sobs when she described the night she beat Hafen to death with a metal bar.

Jurors were given the choice of acquittal, finding Turner guilty of manslaughter, second-degree murder, or first degree, premeditated murder.

The jury deliberated less than six hours before returning a verdict.

Under state law, Turner's first-degree murder conviction carried a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life.

Julia Reynolds can be reached at 648-1187 or jreynolds@montereyherald.com.