The widow of a 1984 Olympic medalist was sentenced Tuesday to at least 50 years in prison for his 2009 murder, PEOPLE has confirmed.
The sentence came nearly five months after Jane Laut, 59, was found guilty in March of the first-degree premeditated murder of her husband, Dave Laut, who was found shot to death in the yard of their Oxnard, California, home on Aug. 27, 2009.
Dave Laut, a 52-year-old athletic director at Hueneme High School in Oxnard and a bronze medalist in shot put, was shot five times with a .22 caliber handgun, authorities have said. The last bullet was fired into the back of his head.
“The People are pleased the jury was able to see through the defendant’s uncorroborated claims of domestic violence and find her guilty of premeditated murder,” Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Rameen Minoui tells PEOPLE in an email.
“When a person commits a callous murder in such a brutal fashion, our criminal justice system should and does treat them equally under the law regardless of their race, age, gender, or socio-economic status. The defendant’s mandated 50 years to life sentence is a product of her choice to shoot her husband six times.”
Jane has said that for years she was a victim of Dave’s domestic abuse, and that the shooting was in self-defense. But, during the trial, prosecutors argued that she stood to gain $300,000 from her husband’s insurance and that there was no evidence of physical abuse.
They also contended she hid the gun in a grandfather clock after the shooting, before calling 911 to report a prowler.
“In her 911 call and interviews with multiple police officers, the defendant initially claimed a prowler shot her husband in their backyard,” Minoui says. “At the time of her arrest, the defendant was in possession of a legal article which detailed how to claim self-defense in a murder prosecution by alleging battered woman’s syndrome. By trial, the defendant changed her story, claiming a history of domestic violence and that she shot her husband six times during a physical struggle.”
Minoui continues, “No witness testified they saw any act of physical violence by Dave Laut. However, the defendant’s son, Michael – the only other person who lived in the house, did testify about a domestic incident during which the defendant punched Mr. Laut in the body.”
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Jane has maintained that she was a battered woman who was repeatedly beaten and raped throughout the couple’s 29-year marriage, and that on the night of his death, she shot her husband in self-defense. She said he was armed with a gun and threatened her, the family dogs and their 10-year-old son.
“There were bruises on her body to show for it,” Laut’s defense attorney, Ron Bamieh, tells PEOPLE of the alleged abuse. “A neighbor heard it.”
Bamieh says that during the trial, more than 40 witnesses testified that over the years they saw “black eyes and unexplained bruising on [Jane’s] legs and arms.”
“They are all people who are prominent in our community here that saw things,” Bamieh says. “Unfortunately nobody did anything.”
But the jury didn’t buy it. They “thought she could have stopped,” after firing one or two shots, Bamieh says. “Our opinion was the threat never ended until he was dead.”
Dave’s family has also rejected Jane’s claims: Rebecca Laut, Dave’s sister-in-law, tells PEOPLE, “We never ever heard about any type of domestic violence. She changed her story so many times and once she was arrested then all of a sudden it was about domestic violence.”
“She was my sister-in-law and I knew her and she was also my friend,” Rebecca says. “I am positive there was never domestic violence. The only domestic violence there was is what she did to Dave and her son Michael on that night. Because of her killing her own husband she took away her son’s father.”
Rebecca says it was actually Dave who was planning to leave Jane before the shooting: “[He] was planning on leaving her. He was looking up divorce attorneys hours before his death. I believe he was leaving her that night and he was planning to take their son and she was not going to allow it to happen.”
Speaking at Jane’s sentencing hearing this week, Dave’s younger brother grew tearful, according to the Ventura County Star.
“The defense went on the attack, bashing Dave’s character and saying hateful, hurtful, despicable lies to the media,” Don Laut said, according to the Star. “Then there was the gut-wrenching realization that Jane was the one who murdered my brother execution-style.
“Their desperate attempt to sway the jury became a hindrance to our desire to allow Dave to rest in peace. The stress of this at times became unbearable because I wanted so badly to be his voice and to stand up for him because he couldn’t defend himself.”
Prior to the trial, Bamieh says, Jane rejected a prosecution offer to plead guilty to manslaughter, which would have allowed her to get out of prison after serving a six-year term.
He says they plan to appeal her conviction.
“She can go ahead and appeal and continue this charade of domestic violence,” Rebecca tells PEOPLE. “How horrible for the real victims of domestic violence. She is doing such a disservice to them. Domestic violence is a real issue but in her case she was lying. The evidence proves she was lying.”
Rebecca says the family has forgiven Jane – “We are Christians and our God tells us to forgive – but it will be hard to forget.
She calls the sentencing a “relief,” saying, “It is not a happy time for us, but a relief that it’s finally over. It is seven years almost to the day.”
Bamieh says Jane viewed the trial differently.
“She wanted people to hear her story and she wanted people to know the truth about Mr. Laut and what he did,” Bamieh says. “She was a domestic violence victim 18 months ago when they offered a six-year deal and she still is today.”