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Life in prison for murdering wife on cruise ship

December 10, 2011 12:11:49 AM PST
An LA County Office of Education teacher was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for fatally beating his wife on a cruise ship.

Robert McGill, who married his high-school sweetheart after they were separated for 30 years, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in July.

The couple was on a five-day Mexican cruise in 2009 when he repeatedly punched and strangled his wife Shirley. They had been married for five years.

McGill, 57, told FBI investigators after the killing aboard the Carnival Elation that he hallucinated after drinking a half bottle of Mezcal and seven or eight beers.

U.S. Chief District Judge Irma Gonzalez did not buy that explanation, noting he went up to the deck after pummeling his wife in the cabin bathroom and never called for help. The FBI says McGill cleaned himself up, smoked a cigar on the deck, and told friends that he killed his wife.

McGill was a longtime teacher of troubled youth for the Los Angeles County Office of Education who doted over his wife after they reconnected on the Internet before a high school reunion.

Shirley McGill's family, including her parents and children, sobbed throughout the hearing as they took turns telling the judge how they felt betrayed.

Defense attorney Todd Burns asked the judge to limit the sentence to 11 years, three months in prison. He said McGill is a good person who made a horrible mistake and was "extremely intoxicated" when he killed his wife.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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