GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — After a long day of closing arguments and jury instructions a Gaston County jury found James Michael Rick guilty of first-degree murder for the death of Joyce Rick, his cousin through marriage.

The jury deliberated for approximately 50 minutes.

The jury had four charges to consider. The top charge of first-degree murder and in the alternative the lesser included charges of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter.

At sentencing Joyce Rick’s sons, Billy and Thomas Rick, gave victim impact statements. Thomas was especially emotional as he described how he and his family have been suffering since Joyce Rick’s death on May 4, 2019.

Both sons mentioned they were especially traumatized by how their mother was discarded into Lake Wylie. And they both said they were grateful for the trial process and to finally have closure.

Judge Thomas Davis sentenced Rick to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Chief Legal Correspondent Seema Iyer has the latest from the Gaston County courthouse.