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Friends of slain woman angry over verdict

To Akilah Weaver, 30-year-old Nikki McPhatter was what she called a “sisterfriend.” The two met during college, and bonded instantly.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- To Akilah Weaver, 30-year-old Nikki McPhatter was what she called a sisterfriend. The two met during college and bonded instantly.

She wasn't just a friend to me. She was a friend to so many people, Weaver said.

That's why the verdict in the trial of her death is so disappointing.

Thursday afternoon, after two days of deliberations, Theodore Manning was found guilty by a Richland County, S.C., jury in McPhatter's death. Manning was sentenced to 30 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.

He treated her as if she were a dog. This was a human being. A life, not some random person, Weaver said.

McPhatter was a US Airways employee, who vanished in May 2009. Her body was found three weeks later in the trunk of a burned out car in Columbia, S.C. Prosecutors said she was shot in the back of the head.

During the trial, Manning admitted to killing McPhatter, but claimed they had gotten into an argument and it was self-defense.

Everyone who has access is calling and texting and e-mailing and is disappointed in what has come back, said another one of McPhatter's friends, Fran Edding.

Edding and Weaver say the evidence should have given jurors enough to convict Manning of murder, which has a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

Something is very wrong with this picture, said Edding.

When I'm done mourning, being upset and hurting, I'll be able to do that. I'll be able to move on, because that's what Nikki would have wanted me to do, said Weaver.