MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. -

Stephen Grant has been convicted of second-degree murder for killing and dismembering his wife, Tara. The second-degree conviction means the jury decided the murder was not premeditated.

That same man tearfully stood before TV cameras and repeatedly denied any involvement in his wife's disappearance, then slipped away to Michigan's remote northern wilderness as police searching his home found her torso, was found guilty Friday of killing her.

Local 4's Hank Winchester Blogs From The Courthouse

Grant looked intently at the jury as the verdict was read, but displayed no outward emotion.

His sister and Tara Grant's sister also showed little emotion when the decision came down Friday afternoon.

Local 4 reported the jurors did not make eye contact with Grant as the judge read the verdict.

Grant faces life in prison but could be eligible for parole.

Tara Grant's sister, Alicia Standerfer, addressed the media after the verdict was reached.

"Obviously, if we would have come back as first degree, we would never have to think of it again," said Standerfer.

"We thank God a portion of this nightmare is complete with the conviction of Stephen Grant."

Prosecutors were seeking a first-degree murder conviction, which carries a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

"From day one I thought it was first-degree murder and there is nothing in this trial that has made me change my mind," Macomb County Prosecutor who tried the case, Eric Smith said in a news conference after the verdict was reached.

The jury of six men and six women deliberated over three days.

Prosecutor Smith told the media it is hard to get 12 people to come together and agree on anything.

"Jurors are like snow flakes, 12 people from 12 walks of life," said Smith. Sentencing is set for Feb. 21.

"It was one of the most difficult and emotional cases that one can imagine," defense lawyer Stephen Rabaut said afterward in thanking the jury for their effort.

Smith, who tried the case, said he will ask the judge to exceed the sentencing guidelines and send Grant to prison for the rest of his life.

"I think there is premeditation all over this case," Smith said.

"I really thought up until the jury said `guilty of second-degree murder' that it was going to be first-degree murder," he said.

Surrounded by family members who were red-eyed from crying, Tara Grant's sister, Alicia Standerfer, said following the verdict: "The cold blooded murder of Tara Grant, my sister, has altered my family forever. Even though with the second degree murder, justice was still served."

She characterized her sister as a wonderful mother and a loving wife who did everything in her power to provide for her family.

"There is no doubt my sister's life was taken due to domestic violence," Standerfer said, adding that her sister also suffered from emotional and mental abuse.

Later, she broke down in tears while discussing the jury's verdict.

"If it had come back with first degree we would never have to think about it again," Standerfer said. "Am I happy with the verdict? No, but those 12 people did the best they could."

Kelly Utykanski, Stephen Grant's sister, said her family members are satisfied with the verdict. "We felt manslaughter would have been a slap on the wrist," she said, adding that she never discussed the case with her brother.

"I'm sure he is just relieved this is over with and we can start the healing process for all parties involved," Utykanski said, who believed her brother committed a crime of passion. "I just couldn't see him sitting around all day thinking about killing somebody."

Just before Grant's trial began Dec. 7, he pleaded guilty to mutilating Tara Grant's corpse. That charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Tara Grant last was seen Feb. 9. Stephen Grant reported her missing Feb. 14 and insisted he had nothing to do with her disappearance. But as police searched the couple's Macomb County home on March 2, he fled. Body parts were found in their garage and a nearby park.

He was captured March 4 in the remote, snowbound Wilderness State Park, more than 200 miles north of their suburban Detroit home in Macomb County's Washington Township.

At the trial, prosecutors played for jurors a three-hour recording of Grant's graphic confession, which had been recorded while he recovered from frostbite and hypothermia at a hospital.

The trial also included testimony from the Grants' ex-teenage au pair, who said she had sexual contact with Grant the night before police say he strangled his wife.

Now-20-year-old Verena Dierkes, who came from Germany to testify, said the Grants' 6-year-old daughter entered the bedroom and she hid under the covers.

In the confession, which was released in April along with other documents in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, Grant said he and his wife were arguing in the upstairs of their house Feb. 9 over what he said were her frequent work trips and time she was spending with a man on those trips.

She walked away, he said, and he grabbed her wrist. Tara Grant then slapped him in the face, scratching his nose. Stephen Grant told police he then hit his wife hard in the head and she fell to the floor.

Tara Grant told her husband that she would call the police, and he would go to jail for striking her, according to the account. The result, he claims she said, would be that he would lose custody of the couple's two young children.

Stephen Grant told police that he then began to choke his wife. He said he covered her face with a gray-colored shirt or pair of underwear.

Grant said his children -- the girl and a 4-year-old boy -- never woke up during the nighttime altercation.

Grant told police that after his wife stopped moving, he placed a belt around her neck and tightened it. He said he put her in the back of the SUV and covered her with plastic.

On Feb. 11, he said, he drove the vehicle to the nearby tool-and-die-shop where he worked. He told police that he broke band saw blades into large pieces, wrapped a rag around one end, then used them to cut the body into pieces. He also destroyed her laptop computer, mobile phone, purse, work papers and other personal items.

Grant said he placed his wife's head, torso and other body parts into plastic bags and loaded them into a larger container. He then drove to his home with the body parts stored in the rear cargo area of the SUV.

Early the next day, Feb. 12, Grant said he put a red sled in the vehicle and left his home to discard the body parts. He placed the plastic container on the sled, but he said he panicked and went home when the sled struck a tree and the contents spilled out.

He said he returned a few hours later to bury the body parts and sled. He also threw saws, gloves and other items into the woods. On Feb. 13 he went back to hide unwrapped body parts and a plastic bag containing latex gloves he had worn.

"There is no doubt that my sister's life was taken to the result of domestic abuse. I will continue to bring a heightened awareness to domestic violence," said Standerfer.

"I will promise to be your voice, 'I love you big sis.'"