PONTIAC (WWJ/AP) – An ex-convict who was convicted of murder nearly three decades after an 88-year-old widow was found dead in her Oakland County home has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Billy Joe Bennett was charged last year after investigators linked the 55-year-old to DNA evidence. He was given his punishment Tuesday after a jury convicted him of felony murder in February.

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Investigators say they believe Elnora Barrager died of a heart attack in 1988 as a result of being raped after a break-in at her Pontiac home.

Bennett testified at trial that he didn’t hurt her, according to The Oakland Press.

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““I was good to her … The last time I heard from her, she rubbed my hand and thanked me — she was alive and well,” he told the judge. “I’m not guilty of any of this, sir. I don’t understand why I’m standing here.”

Prosecutors say Bennett targeted Barrager because he had known her previously. Witnesses testified that he did yard and house work for her.

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