Larry Bill Elliott stood straight and stone-faced as a jury pronounced him guilty in the slayings of a young Rollingwood Village couple a crime he could pay for with his life.
Robert Finch, 30, and Dana Thrall, 25, were murdered in their home on Jousters Way in the early morning hours of Jan. 2, 2001.
Finch, 52, was convicted of first-degree murder in Finch’s death and capital murder in Thrall’s death, which can carry the death penalty. The sentencing phase of his trial begins Monday.
The jury made up of nine women and three men deliberated for less than five hours before finding Elliott guilty.
Family members of Finch and Thrall cried and clutched each other as the verdicts were read. They said the decision brought a sense of relief.
Some said they doubted whether the jury would convict the Hanover, Md., man since much of the evidence against him was circumstantial.
“I don’t think it was an easy case to prove. I thought, for sure, they were going to say, ‘not guilty,’ and my heart was in my throat,” said Cameron Thrall, Dana Thrall’s brother, who is raising her two young sons.
A murder weapon has never been found, there were no eyewitnesses and no fingerprints or DNA evidence were found inside the house where Finch and Thrall were fatally shot.
Elliott, who was deeply involved with Finch’s ex-girlfriend Rebecca Gragg, admits he was outside the couple’s home around the time of the murders but said he didn’t step foot onto their property. A single drop of his blood was found on their backyard fence.
Prince William County prosecutors said Elliott was obsessed with Gragg a stripper he met through an adult classified ad and killed Finch out of jealousy.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my life, waiting for them to read the verdict,” said Jennifer Finch, the sister of Robert Finch. She said her family was relieved that it was over.
The conviction may have brought some feeling of closure to the families of Finch and Thrall but also forced them to relive the ordeal. Crime scene photos and detailed testimony were given to the jury throughout the seven-day trial.
Siblings of both victims said they hope Elliott receives the death penalty.
Elliott’s wife, who sat behind him in the courtroom during most of the trial, was not present when the verdict was read.
Elliott and Gragg’s relationship began about two years ago when she advertised for a “sugar daddy.” In the following year and a half, Elliott spent more than $400,000 on Gragg, paying for all her living expenses.
Both were married to other people throughout their relationship. Gragg said she never led Elliott to believe she was in love with him, but he expressed intense love for her and spoke of them starting a new life together.
Gragg, who shared two children with Finch, told Elliott she would always be in love with Finch despite their volatile relationship. They were embroiled in a bitter custody battle at the time of the murders.
On Monday, the jury will hear testimony from witnesses about the impact of Finch and Thrall’s deaths before recommending a sentence.