EDINBURG, Texas (AP) — A jury has sentenced a former priest to life in prison for the strangulation death of a female parishioner 57 years ago.

The Hidalgo County jury in South Texas deliberated just over four hours Friday before returning the maximum sentence for murder against 85-year-old John Bernard Feit (FYTE). The same jury found him guilty Thursday night for the killing of 25-year-old schoolteacher and former beauty queen Irene Garza in April 1960.

Feit was a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas, when he first came under suspicion in Garza's death. He said he had heard Garza's confession in the church rectory instead of the confessional but denied killing the woman.

Prosecutors had asked for a 57-year prison sentence, one year for each of year Feit was free after Garza's death.

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