Verdict in 2015 hotel shooting leaves families on both sides mourning

Marquel Culpepper Trial

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A jury reached a verdict early Thursday afternoon in a trial for the shooting death of a man in 2015.

Marquel “Chad” Culpepper was found guilty on all three charges in the death of Kendrick Miller, 38.

Culpeper was found guilty of malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault.

The sentencing will be at a later date, according to Judge Victoria Darrisaw.

Darrisaw told WALB she wants to think on the arguments between the sate and defense regarding sentencing. She said family members of both the defendant and victim were able to give their input on sentencing.

It took about an hour and a half for the jury to decide the fate of Marquel Culpepper and that’s because the jurors had a lot to ponder on from Thursday’s closing arguments.

Before the verdict was made, prosecutors said he should be found guilty based on their evidence, especially two key witnesses in the trial.

Prosecutors said Culpepper went to a woman’s room about an hour before the shooting to tell her he was going to come back and harm Miller.

A former clerk was also a key witness as she was the last person to talk to Miller and saw the attack with her own eyes.

Based on the state’s evidence, the jury found Culpepper guilty of malice and felony murder and aggravated assault.

“I just want him to be given another opportunity, because he’s not the monster that he has been created to appear to be. He’s a very good child. He’s a very smart and intelligent child. I apologize for the loss of their family members, but we’re also losing ours as well,” said Ailene Graham, Marquel Culpepper’s older sister.

Graham made this statement right after the verdict when the court was trying to determine how long Culpepper will be behind bars.

It was a captivating moment after the verdict was read. Officers were preparing to take Culpepper away, he looked at the family and said, “Y’all keep your head up! I’m so, so very sorry for your loss.”

After the guilty verdict, Miller’s mother wanted to send an important message to the community.

“I remember this day because that morning, I prayed and I asked God, I want you to find him,” said Marion Miller, Kendrick Miller’s mother.

Prosecutors said it only took officers 11 days to find Culpepper after they said he shot Miller outside the hotel lobby while attempting to pay for his room.

“By taking my son, my great-grandson’s grandfather, my grand-daughter’s father. I did not want anyone going after him,” said Marion.

Miller’s family said Culpepper and the victim were friends, but a small altercation led to this.

“I apologize for the loss of their family member, but we’re also losing ours as well. So no family won in this. Both families are suffering through this,” said Graham.

“This man took my son, my first born. I wish no ill will toward him. I literally prayed for him and now I even pray for him more,” said Marion.

Now, Miller’s mother, brothers and 26-year-old daughter are left to mourn him forever.

“I still have people coming up to me, telling me good things that my son did. No, he wasn’t no angel. None of us are, but he was a good man,” said Marion.

Marion said she grew up old school and if you had a problem with someone, you never turned to violence.

“You got into an altercation with somebody, you use your hand. And before the sun went down, you’re still best friends. Altercations don’t have to end as a take of someone else’s life,” said Marion.

Marion said that after her tragic loss, she urges everyone to stop the violence.

“It didn’t have to end this way. It started with words, it should’ve ended with words,” said Marion. "He took a life, now he has to give his life. And he can give his life in repentance and asking God for forgiveness and asking my son for forgiveness and one day I will forgive him.”

After that verdict, Culpepper’s sister said she apologizes to Miller’s family for their loss and is heartbroken for the loss of Culpepper’s life that he will now spend in prison.

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