BY ELLEN BILTZ

Lisa Gaudenzi's family had a chance yesterday to tell the man who killed her how the loss had affected them.

Lisa's mother, Kathy Marto, told 45-year-old Lawrence Gaudenzi he was an evil murderer.

"Hang down your head Lawrence Gaudenzi. Hang down your head in shame," she said. "You continue to defame her name Now your name shall remain 'murderer.'"

Several others angrily took the stand at Gaudenzi's sentencing hearing to tell him how torturous the last 14 years have been without their loved one.

"I lost my best friend. You murdered my sister," said Gina Gill, Lisa's sister. "But the Lord and the law prevailed."

Lisa's first-born daughter, Lea Burdette, told Gaudenzi that she had been waiting for the day when she would see remorse from him, but it still hasn't come.

"Why can't you at least let us know where the body is?" she pleaded, while staring him in the eye from the witness stand.

The defendant listened, expressionless.

Judge Horace A. Revercomb III sentenced Gaudenzi to 25 years in prison for a second-degree murder conviction, as had been previously agreed upon.

Gaudenzi had originally been charged with first-degree murder in his wife's 1995 disappearance, but Commonwealth's Attorney Tony Spencer agreed to reduce that charge in exchange for his guilty plea Wednesday.

The plea agreement came about a day and a half into a scheduled four-day jury trial.

The jurors were sent home Wednesday when the plea was announced, but one juror returned to court yesterday because he wanted to see the sentencing hearing, he said.

"I just really got into the case," Dean Walters said. "It really got to me."

Walters said he felt Gaudenzi was guilty before the plea because of the mannerisms the defendant exhibited during testimony.

"I was leaning toward the fact that he was a very violent person," he said. "I watched his body language, and all of it was leaning toward guilty."

Gaudenzi decided to plead guilty Wednesday just before a tape was to be played for the jury that could have incriminated him in Lisa's disappearance.

"He definitely didn't want us to hear that tape," Walters said. "He was doubling his fists and gritting his teeth."

The plea agreement this week brought a conclusion to what family and friends have called a grueling 14 years.

Lisa Gaudenzi disappeared Jan. 26, 1995, and was last seen with her husband, according to testimony from the trial.

Gaudenzi told a variety of stories about why Lisa might have disappeared, including that she'd committed suicide or had run off with other men.

Her body was never found. Her father, Joe Marto, and others said that bothered them more than anything, because they'll never know how she died or where her body was put.

"What that man did was take away my heart," Marto told the judge yesterday.

Ellen Biltz: 540/374-5424

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