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AKRON -- Convicted killer Denny Ross could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Judge Judy Hunter sentenced Ross to 19 years to life in prison Tuesday afternoon for the 1999murder of 18-year-old Hannah Hill.

Hunter stipulated the sentence will be served consecutively with his current 25-year term for rape and attempted murder convictions in 2004.

With more than 800 days in time served before the original trial, Ross will be 67 years old, in 2046 when he's first eligible for parole.

Ross was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for murder, and the maximum sentences for tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse, three years and one year, respectively.

Hunter said that the unusual consecutive sentences are necessary to protect the public from future crimes and to punish him, and is not disproportionate to the seriousness of the crimes.

"The harm was so great and unusual that one sentence for all of them is not adequate to reflect the seriousness of this defendant's conduct," Hunter said.

"If he is allowed to rejoin the community...this will happen again,"said Special Prosecutor Matthew Meyer, outlining findings for the court to consider.

The courtroom was packed with friends and family members of Hannah Hill. Her father, Elza Hill,spoke on her behalf, and a victim's advocate read a statement from her grandmother.

Her brother, Justin Hill, addressed Denny Ross directly. "There's no remorse in your face, at all," said Hill from the podium.

In an interview, he told Channel 3 News, "I've been waiting for 14, 13 years to say what I wanted to say to him. In the back of my mind...There's things I want to say to him that I couldn't say because I don't want to get in trouble," he said.

"Now there's finally justice for my sister. And hopefully we can get some closure."

Three jury members, including the foreperson, attended the sentencing. Brianne King says there's no doubt the state got the right guy, and that the jury would approve of Hunter's sentence. "[She] nailed it," said King of Akron.

The jury convicted Ross on the following charges:

  • Count 1 - Guilty Murder, purposely caused the death of Hill
  • Count 2 - Guilty Murder (causeddeath during felonious assault.)
  • Count 3 - Guilty Tampering with evidence
  • Count 4 - Guilty Abuse of a corpse
  • Count 5 - Guilty Felonious assault

Hill's body was found in May 1999, beaten, strangled and raped - then stuffed inside the trunk of her own Geo Prizm. Prosecutors say Ross's DNA was on her body and her belongings were found outside his apartment.

It's an argument the state made in 2000 also, followed by a mistrial and a decade of appeals. Those original proceedings ended in a mistrial after it was discovered jurors discussed a lie detector test that was not presented as evidence.

The defense said this isn't what they hoped for, but attorneys and even Ross himself weren't surprised by the sentence. Defense Attorney Roger Synenberg said Ross did not speak on his own behalf because they plan to appeal the jury's verdicts.

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