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Prosecutor Happy With Murder Conviction Despite Lack of Body

March 30, 1991 GMT

PULASKI, Tenn. (AP) _ Twin brothers were convicted Saturday of second-degree murder in the beating and fatal shooting of an Alabama woman whose body was never found.

A Giles County jury deliberated for four hours Friday and just half an hour Saturday before convicting Pete and Pat Bondurant in the 1986 slaying of 24- year-old Gwen Dugger of Ardmore near the Tennessee line in northern Alabama.

Assistant District Attorney Richard Dunavant said he was pleased with the verdict ″considering we had a homicide without a body.″

″It was a problem in the investigation,″ he said. ″But we feel particularly good we got a conviction for homicide.″

Dugger’s body allegedly was burned in an oil drum with the ashes dumped in a river on the Bondurants’ farm in Elkton.

Defense lawyers did not dispute the body disposal issue, saying ″bad judgment″ led the 36-year-old brothers to destroy Dugger’s remains.

Pat Bondurant’s estranged wife and the state’s star witness, Denise, testified that the twins shot Dugger after a night of sex and drugs at the Bondurants’ farmhouse.

″We’re real happy with the courage and tenacity of a lot of witnesses in this case and the family of the victim,″ Dunavant said. ″People have sort of stuck this thing out.″

But defense witnesses contended that Denise Bondurant, the only other witness to the crime, killed Dugger after finding her husband having sex with the drug-dazed woman.

Neither defendant took the stand during the 4 1/2 days of testimony, and the defense rested its case Friday afternoon after presenting just five witnesses.

Bobby Massey, a lawyer for the twins, said in a closing argument that Pat Bondurant had caught his wife having an affair. She went to the police and exchanged her immunity on other charges for her testimony, he said.

Sentencing was set for May 18. The brothers, who face up to 25 years in prison each, will remain in jail until then.

The Bondurant twins also are under indictment in the November 1986 slaying of Ronnie Gaines of Pulaski. No trial date has been set for that case. Pat Bondurant is charged with first-degree murder and arson, and Pete Bondurant is charged with being an accessory.