Guy Heinze Jr. given life without parole in killings
Updated On: Oct 31 2013 06:41:04 PM EDT
Guy Heinze Jr. will have no opportunity for parole in his life in prison on eight counts of murder., a Glynn County judge ruled Thursday.
Heinze Jr. was found guilty Friday of in the beating deaths of his father and seven others in a Glynn County mobile home more than four years ago. A 3-year-old child survived the attack.
The state submitted nine victim's impact statements for each of the victims, which were written by family members. No family testified at Thursday's hearing.
Hazel Sumner, whose cousins were killed, said said she was relieved by Heinze's sentence.
"We're right and we're pleased today. We can bury our family," she said.
"I'm pleased," said Belinda, the sister-in-law of victim Joseph West. "All of us didn't want the death penalty. We didn't want death. We don't believe in that."
In addition to life in prison, Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett sentenced Heinze to an additional 26 years on a count of aggravated battery and two counts of drug possession.
Gloria Jimerson is raising the boy who survived the attack, who's now 7 years old. His mother, Chrissy Toler, was one of the victims.
"He asks about his momma frequently, but he doesn't remember anything," Jimerson said.
The sentence was a painful blow to family and friends who believe Heinze was wrongly convicted.
"He has to sit in prison for the rest of his life," said Heather Teston, a friend of Heinze. "His grandmother is going to suffer, his brother. They have had enough family taken from them."
Diane Isenhour, who lost four children that day, does not feel the same way. After the sentencing, she walked away quietly, away from cameras and perhaps from a chapter she can finally close.
A jury of nine women and three men convicted the 26-year-old on Friday of eight counts of murder, one of aggravated assault and two drug charges, but only after the prospect of the death penalty was removed and one juror replaced in a deal between prosecutors and the defense to avoid a hung jury.
Prosecutors said Heinze had been smoking crack cocaine Aug. 29, 2009, when he killed his father and the other victims. Each of the victims died from multiple crushing blows to the head from what police believe was a shotgun barrel, though the murder weapon was never found.
The dead included Heinze's father, Guy Heinze Sr., 45. Rusty Toler Sr., 44, was slain along with his four children: Chrissy Toler, 22; Russell D. Toler Jr., 20; Michael Toler, 19; and Michelle Toler, 15. Also killed was the elder Toler's sister, Brenda Gail Falagan, 49, and Joseph L. West, the 30-year-old boyfriend of Chrissy Toler. Her 3-year-old son, Byron Jimerson Jr., ended up the sole survivor but suffered severe head injuries.
Heinze told police his father went to live with the elder Toler's family when they were both teenagers. The suspect said he considered Rusty Toler Sr. to be his uncle, and the man's children were his cousins.
Although the attack happened in the middle of the night and most of the victims were found in bed, defense attorneys argued a single assailant couldn't possibly have inflicted such carnage. They insisted police ignored evidence and alternate suspects in a rush to accuse him.
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