PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - A conviction and life sentence without a key piece of evidence.
The body of Jim Britt has never been found. The Portsmouth man was murdered at his Sterling Point home in 2011. Freddie Lee Hall, Jr. was convicted in his death and sentenced to life in prison earlier this week.
The case sets a precedent. Portsmouth Commonwealth's Attorney Earle Mobley says he can't remember another one in which the suspect was convicted with no confession and no body.
"This is the only case that I am aware of when there is a conviction without a confession when there was no body," said Mobley. "It is a very, very rare thing."
But even without a body, Mobley says his prosecutors showed the jury a "mountain of evidence."
"He had my brother's cars, he had my brother's titles," said William Britt, the victim's brother. "He was spotted coming out of Jimmy's house the day Jimmy went missing."
Samples of DNA didn't confirm Hall was the killer, but didn't exclude him either. It was one of the many pieces of the puzzle, Mobley said pointed to his guilt.
"I am convinced by any shadow of a doubt, not just reasonable doubt," said Mobley. "I am confident we have the right person."
But Hall still refuses to talk - even with a life sentence. He refuses to tell investigators where he made Jim Britt's grave.
"We're hopeful we can find the body, not because the case gets any stronger, but really for the benefit of the family."
They say it is the only piece of the puzzle that will bring true closure.
"It would give us the opportunity to have all of us together again," said Britt.
Both the Britt family and the Commonwealth's Attorney praised the work done by Portsmouth police, especially Detective Luck, who offered Britt's mother a shoulder to cry on during sentencing.
The Britt family is offering a $30,000 cash reward to anyone who can lead them to Jim's body.
Hall's legal team has hinted they would be filing an appeal in the coming days.
Drivers traveling between Hatteras Island and the mainland were forced to use an emergency ferry Wednesday, following the sudden closure of the Bonner Bridge Tuesday.
Hampton Fire units arrived at the scene of a residential fire in the 3800 block of Shell Road just after 6 p.m.
One person was able to get out of a Newport News house safely after police say a man fired a gun.