Jury sentences man to 20 years for suffocating wife

A Hood County jury sentenced an Arlington man on Wednesday to 20 years in prison for suffocating his ailing wife at a residence in Abe’s Landing north of Granbury in March 2017. Joseph Scala, 73, was originally charged with murdering his wife, Betty Scala, 72, but prosecutors agreed to a guilty plea and lesser charge of manslaughter. Twenty years is the maximum punishment for manslaughter.

Defense attorney Richard Hattox tried to convince the eight-woman, four-man jury that Scala’s act was a mercy killing.

District Attorney Rob Christian disagreed. He said after the trial, “When one drives from Arlington to Hood County with the sole purpose of killing another person, there are consequences. By all accounts, Betty was an especially caring and generous person. She should not have died the way she did.” Scala will be eligible for parole in less than five years.