A white man who fatally shot two Black folks at a Kroger grocery store in Jeffersontown, Ky., in 2018 in a racially-motivated assault was sentenced this week to life in jail with out the opportunity of parole.
At a court docket listening to on Tuesday, the gunman, Gregory Bush, pleaded responsible however mentally ailing to the murders of Vickie Lee Jones and Maurice E. Stallard.
Mr. Bush, 53, additionally pleaded responsible to felony tried homicide and wanton endangerment in reference to the Oct. 24, 2018, taking pictures within the Louisville suburb.
He’s additionally anticipated to plead responsible to federal hate crime prices in reference to the shootings, a transfer that may enable him to keep away from the demise penalty, in keeping with court docket paperwork.
Mr. Stallard, 69, an Air Drive veteran, had been buying together with his 12-year-old grandson to purchase supplies for a college mission when Mr. Bush shot him a number of occasions contained in the Kroger, in keeping with the police. Mr. Bush then went out to the car parking zone and killed Ms. Jones, 67, who had retired from a Division of Veterans Affairs hospital and had been caring for her ailing mom.
Mr. Bush didn’t know both of the 2 victims, whose households spoke at his sentencing in Jefferson Circuit Court docket in Louisville.
“You’ll be able to’t hate somebody that a lot only for the colour of their pores and skin,” mentioned Charlotte Stallard, the widow of Mr. Stallard. “You will have ruined my life.”
Mr. Stallard’s daughter Kellie Watson, who had been the chief fairness officer for the town of Louisville, additionally spoke on the listening to.
“Our life has modified without end,’’ she mentioned, “and the person’s life that you just took meant one thing.”
Shortly earlier than the taking pictures, Mr. Bush tried unsuccessfully to enter First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, a predominantly Black church, officers mentioned.
Simply after the shootings, the son of a witness advised an area tv station that his father had heard the gunman make a racist comment through the episode, although the police mentioned they might not verify that account.
Mr. Bush has a historical past of psychological sickness, in keeping with the authorities. In 2019, he had been declared not competent to face trial, however the dedication was reversed after he underwent therapy.
In Kentucky, an individual who pleads responsible however mentally ailing is entitled to obtain therapy and psychiatric care underneath the felony statutes.
Angela Elleman, a lawyer for Mr. Bush, advised the tv station WDRB in a press release after the sentencing that his responsible plea hopefully make clear Mr. Bush’s psychological state on the time of the killings.
“On the day of this tragedy, Mr. Bush’s schizophrenia was not medicated, so he was tortured by voices that threatened to kill him and his household,” she mentioned. “He acted out of his psychosis and his sickness.”
The prosecutor within the case, Thomas B. Wine, mentioned in a press release that state legislators ought to bear in mind the victims as they take up hate crime laws in Kentucky.
“Vickie Jones and Maurice Stallard have been senselessly murdered due to the colour of their pores and skin,” Mr. Wine mentioned. “Our whole neighborhood and commonwealth had suffered a loss due to racial enmity.”