The verdict was guilty of voluntary manslaughter, not murder.
According to the Georgia state code, a person commits this offense when they kill another person “under circumstances which would otherwise be murder and if he acts solely as the result of a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion resulting from serious provocation sufficient to excite such passion in a reasonable person….”
John Renay Wilson Jr., 19, faced sentencing Friday morning for that, and with the conviction of possession of a knife during commission of a felony, left the possibility of a sentence of 25 years in state prison.
Testifying on his behalf, his mother said, “This is not John’s character, and we’re all blindsided by it.”
In October 2018, he and 23-year-old Chris Bailey got into an altercation. It ended with Wilson deciding to stab Bailey. The knife penetrated Bailey’s heart, and he later died receiving treatment at the hospital.
Wilson turned himself in the next day.
Tracy Alexander, Bailey’s uncle, said Bailey, while not perfect, “was a promising, good and decent young man,” and his death left a gaping hole in the family. Alexander said Wilson “took something that he couldn’t give,” — the life of another person.
Assistant District Attorney Liberty Stewart, in asking for the maximum sentence, told Superior Court Judge Roger Lane, “Regardless of the sentence you give to Mr. Wilson, he can come home,” while Bailey is gone forever.
Lane, in giving the maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, told Wilson that through his actions he’d already sentenced Bailey’s family to life without him.
Also heard Friday morning was a status conference for Don Earl Johnson Jr., who is accused of shooting and killing 30-year-old Daniel Lee Gilliam in April 2017 with a .22-caliber pistol while in the process of committing armed robbery.
Defense attorney Frank Aspinwall said two weeks ago he talked with Johnson, and they decided to approach the District Attorney’s Office with a proposal that Johnson would plead guilty in exchange for a recommendation of life with parole.
If convicted otherwise, odds favor Johnson receiving life in prison without parole.
However, Johnson said that now he does not want to plead guilty and instead intends to take his case to trial. Attorneys from both sides agreed that Lane’s July 11 scheduling order should not be a problem.
A hearing on pretrial motions is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2020, and jury selection for the trial is slated for Jan. 20, 2020.