Jurors deliberated four hours Friday before convicting Shaynna Lauren Sims on all five counts she faced in connection with removing body parts from and cutting the face and hair of a deceased woman during a funeral home viewing.
The body of Tabatha Lynch, who died at age 38 of natural causes, was in a casket at Moore’s Eastlawn Funeral Home on April 30, 2015, when the mutilation took place.
The jury recommended Sims serve seven years in prison for first-degree burglary, five years for unlawfully removing a body part from someone who is deceased, two years for knowingly concealing stolen property, one year for unauthorized dissection, and one year for disrupting or interrupting a funeral.
Jurors also levied fines totaling $6,500.
Sims is set to be sentenced by Tulsa County District Judge Kelly Greenough at 9 a.m. June 1 after a pre-sentencing investigation is conducted.
Assistant District Attorney Tanya Wilson told reporters after the verdict that prosecutors would ask the judge to set the sentences back-to-back rather than concurrently.
During closing arguments, two prosecutors told jurors the defense was “slut-shaming” the deceased because Lynch was having an affair with Sims’ estranged husband. Sims’ attorney denied that and characterized his client as “not in the right state of mind” because she was humiliated, broken-hearted, embarrassed and angered by the adultery.
“We understand a person being jealous; we understand a person being angry,” Wilson told reporters in a courthouse hallway. “And she probably had every right to be.
“But as I said in closing arguments, she took it a step too far.”
Sims’ attorney, Donn Baker, didn’t speak with reporters before exiting the courthouse.
The jury began deliberating about 11:45 a.m. after hearing closing arguments.
Assistant District Attorney Reagan Reininger said Sims “needlessly terrified” a grieving family. Reininger reminded jurors that they heard Sims’ phone call from jail to her mother, with her words demonstrating she only wanted to help herself. She said nothing about not being in her right mind, Reininger said.
“She’s not crazy. She’s not mentally ill,” Reininger said.
Reininger portrayed Sims as being a “scorned wife” who was “so eaten up” she had to get back at Lynch one last time. Her behavior wasn’t excusable just because her husband was cheating on her with Lynch, Reininger said.
“She went in there and she wreaked havoc,” Reininger said of Sims crashing the viewing of the body.
Baker said he wasn’t “slut-shaming” Lynch and wasn’t in court to disrespect the dead. He said the state went too far in charges against his client.
Baker particularly emphasized the burglary count because — as the most serious of the charges — it carried a sentence of up to 20 years with a requirement to serve 85 percent of the sentence before parole eligibility.
Baker said “the reason we’re here” is because of that charge, which Sims “absolutely did not commit.” He accused the state of stacking charges because they wanted to obtain a more severe punishment than the misdemeanors allowed for.
The burglary charge against Sims is based on allegations that she gave Lynch’s boyfriend and children a false name and wrongly said she worked for the funeral home when she went to Lynch’s apartment, reportedly to steal jewelry after taking her shoes from the funeral home.
Baker told jurors that Sims had consent from Lynch’s son to enter the apartment.
He also argued that the evidence shows Sims wasn’t in her right state of mind, that “she had been driven over the edge by a cheating husband.”
During the state’s second closing argument, Wilson said Sims’ actions were “her one last attempt to humiliate Tabatha.”
“It’s not overcharging; it’s not stacking charges,” Wilson said. “It’s presenting to you everything this woman did.”