FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona woman who said she shot her girlfriend in self-defense was sentenced Monday to 23 years in prison.

Michele Butler, 57, apologized to the family of her partner Kimberly Shelton, 53, during her sentencing hearing on Monday, the Casa Grande Dispatch reported .

Butler was accused of shooting Shelton twice and leaving her for dead outside of the couple's home in December 2015 in Red Rock, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Tucson.

"I know there will never be the right combination of words to express my sorrow," Butler said, before asking the court for leniency.

Butler has previously said that Shelton had threatened to kill her and her pet chicken, Goofy, before the shooting.

Her lawyers pointed out that bruises can be seen on Butler's body in her mugshot photo.

Shelton's family argued that Shelton didn't abuse Butler.

Prosecutor William Wallace claimed Butler was acting out because Shelton was looking to end their relationship.

In her original testimony after the shooting, Butler never mentioned that she shot Shelton in self-defense, said Pinal County Superior Court Kevin White.

Investigators testified that instead, Butler was more concerned with her pet chicken than she was about Shelton.

"The chicken is my life," Butler told a detective in the interview. "I was trying to keep her alive."

A jury found Butler guilty of second-degree murder in April after the 12 jurors did not unanimously agree that the murder was premeditated.

Butler will receive credit for the 966 days that she has already served at the Pinal County jail.

She intends to appeal.


Information from: Casa Grande Dispatch.