Five young Albany men are all sentenced to life, but with the possibility of parole, for their conviction in the murder of a Griffin man at a club three years ago. It's a story we first reported on e-mail alerts. Prosecutors say the murder was gang violence at its worst.
The family of the murdered young man was there for today's sentencing, and his father and brother made impassioned pleas for justice for their son and brother.
None of the five men convicted of killing LaShelton Stanford spoke during their sentencing. Many of their family members asked for mercy. But he victim's family said their son did not receive any mercy, when he was shot seven times.
22 year old Shenard Smith was the first of the five convicted murderers led into the courtroom for sentencing. Prosecutors and witnesses say he was the gunman who shot LaShelton Stanford in the parking lot at Brickhouse Productions after a fight on Valentine's Day, 2010.
Friday the murder victim's father and twin brother said Stanford deserved justice. Stanford's father Wilfred Foster said "I lost a child. There is no parole for him."
But Judge Denise Marshall sentenced Smith to life with the possibility of parole after 30 years, despite prosecutor's pleas for life without the possibility of parole for all five convicted men.
District Attorney Greg Edwards said "Brutally murdered without remorse. Was a direct victim of gang violence, and that's why this was an important case."
One by one all five men were brought in to court, bound in handcuffs and leg irons- 22 year old Shuntavious Seay, Shacoby Seay, with tears running down his cheeks, 20 year old Anthony Hawkins, who has been behind bars since he was 17 years old, and 23 year old Galvin Arnold.
Many of their family members asked for mercy. All got identical sentences. Life with the possibility of parole after 30 years. The Judge said she wanted to give the men some future hope.
Judge Denise Marshall said "You made your choices. It's a long journey back, but good luck to you sir."
Stanford's family said they wanted no chance of parole, but they are satisfied. "I understand hatred is a bad thing. But right now I'm going through what I'm going through and what my family is going through. I just can't find sympathy for them. So I'll pray for them, but I won't pray with them," Foster said.
And after three years some hope for the beginning of closure.
"I don't have to look at them no more. That's all the closure I need. And my brother can finally rest in peace," said Brother LaShunton Stanford.
The District Attorney and Judge said it's important young people know that they can lose much of their lives if they make bad choices.
But the closure is not complete for the Stanford family. Four more men charged in connection with his death are scheduled to go on trial in January.
A number of the attorneys for the five men said they would be appealing their convictions today.