The month-long trial of the man who admitted to killing eight people in a North Carolina nursing home came to an end this past weekend. The jury found the defendant guilty of eight counts of second-degree murder as well as weapons and firearms crimes.
The panel deliberated for eight hours, beginning Friday and wrapping up on Saturday, asking several times to review several witnesses’ testimony and a number of exhibits.
At the sentencing hearing that followed, the judge listened as nine family members of victims testified. Each spoke of the character of the loved one and the effect the loss has had on the family. All told the judge that their lives had been forever altered by the shootings.
The judge handed down eight sentences: 16 to 20 years for each victim, with the sentences to be served consecutively. He added 22 years for the weapons and firearms crimes. The total sentence, between 148 and 179 years, is, in reality, a life sentence.
Had the prosecution prevailed with the first-degree murder case, the defendant could have faced the death penalty. The jury, however, did not believe the 47-year-old had acted with intent, malice and premeditation.
Nor, however, did jurors believe the defendant’s argument that he did not know what he was doing. Witnesses testified that he had a borderline personality disorder, and that he had been mixing alcohol with medications for sleeping, depression and anxiety.
Defense counsel said he believes the defendant does not remember the shootings. He added that the defendant plans to appeal the verdict.
Source: News & Observer, “Verdict spares life of man who killed 8 in NC nursing home,” Tammy Grubb, Sept. 4, 2011