DENVER -- A Highlands Ranch man was convicted Monday by a federal jury of killing his wife by pushing her off a cliff in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Harold Henthorn was found guilty of first-degree murder, three days after receiving the case. Henthorn will be sentenced Dec. 8. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“This was a guilty verdict that meant more to us than just getting justice for Toni,” said Barry Bertolet, the brother of Toni Henthorn who was killed in 2012.
Bertolet said his family wants Henthorn to receive life in prison without parole. They feel if Henthorn had a shot at freedom, he would harm others.
“I feel sorry for him in a way,” Bertolet said. “I think he believes his own stories."
After the verdict, a juror approached Toni’s mother Yvonne and hugged her.
“She just said as one mom to another, I feel your pain,” Yvonne Bertolet said.
Initially, no foul play was suspected in the September 2012 death of Toni Henthorn, with Harold telling investigators his wife had slipped and fell 140 feet to her death as they were hiking on Deer Mountain Trail in the park to celebrate their 12th wedding anniversary.
Three years later, prosecutors spent two weeks arguing what Toni's family had long suspected: Harold had purposefully pushed Toni, with his motive being to get his hands on his wife's insurance money. A career eye doctor, Toni Henthorn had insurance policies totaling about $4.7 million.
Defense attorneys argued Toni had slipped while trying to take a photo. Harold never took the stand in his own defense.
Prosecutors painted Harold Henthorn's version of events as unreliable, saying it often changed.
"(Harold) told several conflicting stories about how Toni died," prosecutors wrote in court documents. "He told law enforcement and family members that he did not see her fall, but rather witnessed a blur while he was reading text messages. He told another witness both he and Toni were checking text messages and Toni had wandered too close to the edge. He told other witnesses that Toni was trying to take pictures and slipped."
Investigators also found a map in Harold Henthorn's car that was marked with a pink X in the area where Toni fell.