SAN ANTONIO -

It did not take the jury long Thursday -- about 50 minutes -- to decide that Francis Ford, 39, should serve a life sentence in the murder of Lawrence Belcher.

Belcher, 38, was killed when his car was struck by Ford’s sedan as she drove the wrong way on Highway 281 on the night of Oct. 14, 2010.

Her blood alcohol level was over three times the legal limit, investigators said.

It was Ford’s third drunken driving arrest. Since that is a felony, she was charged with murder, rather than intoxication manslaughter.

During closing arguments in Ford’s trial, her lawyer, Monica Guerrero, asked the jury to have mercy and consider a lesser sentence.

“I am asking you to consider strongly the 20-year maximum that she would have gotten on intoxication manslaughter,” Guerrero said.

Prosecutor David Henderson said life in prison was the proper punishment in this case, noting Ford’s previous drunken driving arrests.

“Make sure that as much time as possible passes before there is a possibility that she can ever get behind the wheel of a car again,” Henderson asked the jury. “That’s why you’ve got to give her life.”

Ford must serve 30 years in prison before she is eligible for parole.

For a list of recent stories Paul Venema has done, click here.