A Woodlawn man sentenced Tuesday to laiaife in prison for first-degree murder vowed to fight until proven innocent and until the "right person is Vincent O. Hamilton, 30, maintained in Howard County Circuit Court that he is innocent of the execution-style slaying of Kelly J. Nance, 23, of Catonsville, whose body was found in Elkridge on May 23, 1989.

A Howard County Circuit Court jury convicted Hamilton on May 4 of first-degree murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a felony.

"I was a victim as well as Kelly Nance," said Hamilton, who had been Nance's friend. "If only I had been there that night, I might have been Hamilton contends he was painting his own apartment the night Nance was shot twice in the head at close range and his body dumped in the woods off Old Lawyer's Hill Road. Evidence presented during the trial showed that Nance had been shot in Hamilton's burgundy-colored Monte Carlo car.

Hamilton claims another man, Manuel Henderson, 30, of Baltimore, borrowed his car that night and committed the murder. Henderson testified during the trial that Hamilton asked him to call Nance and arrange a meeting -- under the pretense of a drug deal -- but that his involvement ended there.

Reading from a two-page prepared statement, Hamilton told Circuit Judge Cornelius F. Sybert Jr. that Nance's "soul will never rest until the right "My husband is innocent," said Sherry Hamilton, the defendant's wife of two years. "He was framed and for some reason these people in Howard County Prosecutor Kate O'Donnell, however, said all evidence indicates that Hamilton alone was responsible for Nance's murder.

"There was a falling out between Hamilton and Nance," she said. "A life sentence is not only due and owed to Nance and his family but also due and Sybert said the case "preyed on his mind for several months," but he decided to sentence Hamilton to life in prison because he was found guilty of first-degree murder. He sentenced Hamilton five years for the handgun violation to be served at the same time.

Earlier, the judge turned down a defense request for a new trial.

Public Defender Richard S. Bernhardt, representing Hamilton, said he will appeal on his client's behalf.

Olivia Nance, Kelly's mother, said afterward she was satisfied with the sentencing, but knew the ordeal was not over. "You know it's going to be

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