Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lakendall Sims Gets Life Sentence

A Bessemer jury in January convicted Sims of killing Catherine Williams, 19, in May 2007 and recommended the 20-year-old spend the rest of his life in prison. Circuit Judge Mac Parsons on Friday decided to follow the jury's recommendation and sentenced Sims to two terms of life in prison to be served consecutively and will not be eligible for parole. According to testimony, Sims and three other men stole $11 from Williams before they locked her in the trunk of her car and drove her to an abandoned storage facility. The men made her strip, and then Sims sexually assaulted her. She was then shot in the head and face. Assistant District Attorney LeAnna Huddleston had urged Parsons to override the jury's recommendation and sentence Sims to death, arguing that the crime was "heinous, atrocious and cruel" and that Sims had not shown remorse for Williams' death. Sims' attorney Jonathan Tindle argued that without Sims' cooperation, police may have never found Williams' body. Parsons twice asked Sims if he had anything to say before sentencing. The first time he declined. The second time he shook his head and said, "All I can say is, I didn't do it." Three other men - Tarquinne McCain, Travis Burns and James Pratt - have entered guilty pleas in Williams' death. Police said the same four men, who became known as the "Lipscomb Four," also are responsible for robbing and killing 21-year-old Gabriel Alaniz the night before Williams' death and were behind a home invasion and beating of an elderly couple the same month. Sims is scheduled to stand trial for Alaniz's death June 8. Sims' attorney, David Hobdy, said his client maintains he did not fire the shots that killed either victims. Sims already is serving a 20-year sentence at Donaldson Correctional Facility for second-degree rape. Last September, Sims escaped from the Bessemer courthouse by overpowering a bailiff. He was on the run for more than a day before being caught by Birmingham police.

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