Surrounded by family, Dr. James Briles speaks at his wife's gravesite, one day after Delmer Smith was convicted of her murder.
Palmetto, Florida - When Dr. James Briles visits his wife Kathleen, he goes to the Skyway Memorial Gardens Cemetery. Along a creek, under a large oak tree surrounded by white flowers, there's a marble bench facing Kathleen's grave site.
This is where Briles has been visiting his wife since August 2009. The man Manatee deputies believe killed her is 41-year-old Delmer Smith. He has been found guilty of first degree murder by a jury of six men and six women. It's one more step in Briles' grieving process.
"It gives Kathy the justice she deserves and it brings some peace," says Briles.
Surrounded by his family, including his two sons and daughter, at his wife's grave site, Briles thanks the investigators, the attorneys and the jurors.
"They gave a voice to my wife Kathleen and it was heard." Briles visits his wife's grave frequently, saying "It's peaceful here."
It was Briles' first stop after the verdict. He says he shared the news with her. "I cried my eyes out until I was dry, that's what I did," he recalls.
Earlier that day in court, he remembers the moment the foreman read the guilty verdict as he sat in a corner of the courtroom.
"What I was really doing was watching Delmer Smith. He had no emotion whatsoever, completely blank as he has been through the entire process."
Prosecutors say seven key items stolen from Briles' home connect Smith to Kathleen's murder, including matching his and hers Geneva watches and a medical book with Smith's fingerprint.
Smith is believed to have ambushed the 48-year-old mother of three in the driveway, dragged her inside, gagged her mouth and tied her ankles and wrists with duct tape. He then beat her head with an iron sewing machine.
Briles would be the one to find his wife's body.
He has waited three years to hear these words: "The defendant is guilty of murder in the first degree."
Briles says those 10 words erase the grief. "That's all gone. The things that replace it are happy things."
Happier things such as his family, a 9-month-old grandson and remembering the good times.
Briles says, "She had a great smile and her laugh. Her spirit is still there."
On Tuesday the jurors and Smith return to a Manatee County courtroom for the sentencing phase. Smith faces either life in prison without parole or death by lethal injection.
Briles says, "I know the death penalty is appropriate."
Smith is already serving a life sentence for a Sarasota home invasion and kidnapping. He is also a suspect in an unsolved murder, two rapes and 10 home burglaries.
Briles hopes the murder conviction for his wife's brutal death will bring those victims some peace. "There are other victims out there that may never have their day in court. I like them to consider this a victory for them as well."