LAWRENCEVILLE The shooter got two consecutive life sentences plus 120 years.
The accomplice got two consecutive life sentences plus 120 years.
The lookout got two consecutive life sentences plus 135 years.
All three suspects in the sneaker-driven murder of an innocent Grayson teenager are going away for a long time.
After only about five hours of deliberation Tuesday, a Gwinnett County jury found defendants Andrew Murray (the shooter), Tavaughn Saylor (the accomplice) and Larnell Sillah (the lookout) guilty on all but one charge of an 18-count indictment.
Murray and Saylor were each found guilty of four separate murder charges, all stemming from the Dec. 19, 2012, death of 14-year-old Grayson High School freshman Paul Sampleton Jr. Sillah was found guilty on the three murder charges filed against him.
You all have lived a life of despair all your life, the victims mother, Stephanie Stone, told the defendants during Tuesday afternoons sentencing hearing. Paul didnt live a life of despair. He had hope. He had dreams. And you all killed his dreams because you didnt have any.
Said Paul Sampleton Sr., the victims father: All I say to yall is good riddance and goodbye.
Evidence presented during the two-week trial suggested that Sillah, 15 at the time of the murder, and Grayson High School classmates Achiel Morgan and Romaine Stewart originally planned to rob Sampleton for his high-dollar sneakers, plotting the crime on a school bus and following the victim home one day after giving him a haircut. The prosecution maintained that Murray and Saylor, both approaching 30 years old, heard about the plan later and cut out Morgan and Stewart.
Prosecutors believe Murray and Saylor ambushed Sampleton inside his mothers townhome, restraining him with duct tape while ransacking the residence. After more than an hour, Murray, Sillahs uncle, put a pillow to Sampletons head and shot him three times.
Sillah is believed to have acted as a lookout. It was unclear if he ever entered the home.
Though only Murray was accused of shooting Sampleton, all three defendants were charged with several counts of murder as parties to the crime a legal concept that means anyone who aids or abets in a crime can be charged as if they committed it themselves.
During what turned into a tense sentencing hearing, all three defendants spoke to the court, speaking angrily and claiming that Assistant District Attorney Mike Morrison had set them up.
Said Sillah, addressing Morrison: Youre the best liar they have.
Said Saylor, proclaiming his innocence: I know for a fact I didnt kill no 14-year-old for no damn sneakers.
Said Sillah, talking about his popularity at school: Gwinnett County aint gonna see another 15-year-old like me.
Murray, Saylor and Sillah were found guilty on all charges filed against them except one: a burglary charge stemming from a Dec. 14 incident at a townhome next to Sampletons. Prosecutors believe the defendants thought they were targeting Sampletons home but fled after an alarm sounded when they kicked the back door in.
Sillah was sentenced to more prison time than his co-defendants thanks to his involvement in a Sept. 2012 burglary in which several guns were stolen from a home not far from the murder scene.
Murray and Saylor are believed to be members of the Bloods gang. Sillah was the ringleader of his own gang called the Young Wavey Goonz.
One person did speak on behalf of the defendants Tuesday. Her comments triggered an outburst from the Sampleton family and set sheriffs deputies working court security into motion.
Natalie Hardie, Sillahs mother and Murrays sister, told Judge Debra Turner that the prosecution polished the case up to frame her family members.
I know I did not raise a murderer, Hardie said. And I know for a fact my son did not commit this crime.
Surrounded by family, Sampletons mother spoke up from the gallery.
Well who committed it then? Stone asked loudly. Who committed it? Tell me.