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Breaking News Amick sentenced to life for murder

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 ~ Updated 8:26 AM

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After first hearing from the daughter of a murdered Myrtle woman and then from the convicted murderer's wife, Senior Judge J. Max Price sentenced the 34-year-old father of three to life in prison.

An Oregon County jury found Michael E. Amick of rural Myrtle guilty on July 1 of second-degree murder and arson for shooting his wife's grandmother, Leona Maxine Vaughan, 67, six times in the head in December 2008 and burning her house to hide the crime.

Defense attorney Dee Wampler of Springfield asked that Amick be given the minimum sentence of 10 years, of which 85 percent must be served. Wampler said Amick's score, based on no previous criminal convictions, was "doggone good" and that his chance of being a repeat offender was low.

Instead, Price gave Amick the maximum sentence for each crime - seven years for arson and life for murder, to run concurrently.

After reading the sentence, Price asked Amick if he had any problems with law enforcement regarding his case. Amick has been jailed in the Oregon County Jail in Alton since a few days after the crime.

"Too numerous to go into now," Amick said of his concerns with authorities.

Price asked Amick if he wanted to elaborate.

"I don't think it would do a bit of good," Amick said.

Amick's wife, Sara, read a letter to Price, stating how she has never known her husband to be emotionally or physically abusive. Sara Amick choked back tears as she said how it breaks her heart to explain to her and Michael's young children that "Daddy still loves them," although he cannot be with them now. She called the conviction "ridiculous."

The hearing lasted less than 45 minutes, and was attended by many on both sides of the courtroom who had testifieded during the four-day trial in July.

Attorney Kevin Zoellner of the State Attorney General's office, who prosecuted the case, read a letter from Vaughan's daughter, Jackie Risner, who said her mother died "scared, murdered and burnt" at the hands of a family member. Risner is Sara Amick's mother.

Risner said the crime has estranged her from her daughter and grandchildren.

"I will not allow Mike to take one more thing from me," Zoellner read from Risner's letter.

Amick has 180 days to file an appeal. Price also sustained Wampler's request to step down as Amick's attorney.



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