HOUSTON A Houston man found guilty of murder in the death of his girlfriend has been sentenced to 27 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
A Harris County jury found Mark Castellano, 39, guilty Thursday in the murder trial of his 31-year-old girlfriend Michelle Warner.
Werner should have been celebrating her 33rd birthday today. Instead, her family sat in the Harris County Courthouse hearing the punishment against the man who murdered her.
Castellano choked Warner during a September 2012 argument at their southwest Houston apartment as their 3-year-old son was in the next room, according to prosecutors. Castellano took their child to stay with his parents in Odessa and drove back to Houston the next day.
Prosecutors said he then drove Warner s body to West Texas and dumped it in a shallow grave near Midland.
Castellano told police and family members that Warner had run away.
He at one point taped a segment with Phil McGraw for his nationally syndicated show.
Castellano finally admitted to killing Warner, though he claimed it was in self-defense during a fight.
Warner s family sat on the witness stand and spoke directly to Castellano after the sentencing verdict was read. They said his actions have torn their family apart and left Warner s 13-year-old daughter and toddler son without a mother.
To them, the punishment is not nearly enough. Castellano faced a life sentence.