A jury deliberated just 45 minutes Thursday before finding Gregory Gathers guilty of the June 7, 2010 murder of Renee Nevarez of North Charleston.

Circuit Court Judge J.C. Nicholson sentenced Gathers, 48, to life in prison. The sentence took into account the murder conviction, plus Gathers' 1988 conviction for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said.

"We are grateful that Judge Nicholson gave the max for a man who devastated a family and refused to accept responsibility for such a savage attack," Wilson said.

She said the jury deliberated for about 45 minutes before handing down the verdict in Charleston County General Sessions Court.

Nevarez was 53-years-old when she was beaten and cut while arguing with Gathers in her home, authorities said.

According to assistant solicitors Culver Kidd and Adam Young, who prosecuted the case, Gathers and Nevarez had a relationship in which Gathers gave Nevarez crack cocaine in exchange for sex. After spending the evening with Nevarez in her home, he began to suspect she'd stolen approximately $400 dollars from him. He began to beat and torture Nevarez in an attempt to recover his money.

Gathers punched her in the face and head until she died. At some point, he used a kitchen knife and cut slits into her eyelids. Gathers never recovered his money, and it was never found by law enforcement who searched the home.

"Though Gathers admitted to killing Nevarez, he tried to make it her fault. Some of the pictures of the victim were so gruesome that the

judge couldn't allow the jury to see them. Fortunately, the jury was able to see through Gathers' lies and hold him accountable for his brutality," Kidd said after the trial.