Dale Wayne Eaton, the Natrona County man convicted of brutally raping and murdering a college student more than three decades ago will finally be sentenced.

Eaton was convicted in 2004 for the 1988 murder-rape of Lisa Marie Kimmel.

He's set to be sentenced on March 25.

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Following his conviction, a Natrona County jury voted unanimously to sentence Eaton to death as the murder was "especially atrocious or cruel, being unnecessarily torturous to (Kimmel)."

Eaton was also sentenced to life imprisonment, 40 to 50 years and 20 to 25 years for non-capital crimes.

What followed was a protracted legal battle that eventually made its way to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals before being sent back to the Wyoming courts. In 2019, Natrona County District Attorney Dan Itzen again filed notice that prosecutors would be seeking the death penalty.

But following a mental competency evaluation last fall, prosecutors indicated they will no longer seek capital punishment.

The March sentencing hearing won't mean much for Eaton has the minimum punishment for first-degree murder is life behind bars.

Attorneys for Eaton acknowledged as much in a filing last year.

"(...) Mr. Eaton will undoubtedly remain in prison until he dies no matter how this court exercises its remaining sentencing discretion," the filing states. "The gravity of the stakes and complexity of the issues have reduced considerably."

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