A North Carolina man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in connection with the fatal shooting of the defendant’s 5-year-old neighbor.
Darius Sessoms recently agreed at the Wilson County Courthouse to an Alford plea, which allowed him to maintain his innocence but admit evidence in the case would likely result in a guilty verdict if he went to trial, WRAL reported.
Sessoms, 28, was accused of fatally shooting 5-year-old Cannon Hinnant in the head while the boy was riding a bicycle at his father’s home in August 2020.
A witness to the shooting, Doris Lybrand, said she saw Sessoms run up to Hinnant, hold a gun by the child’s head and then return home.
“My first reaction was he's playing with the kids,” Lybrand said. “For a second, I thought, ‘That couldn't happen.’ People don't run across the street and kill kids.”
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In a victim impact statement read in court, Hinnnant’s mother, Bonny Parker, said her son was her “pride and joy” and losing him “made us suffer for the rest of our lives.”
She also told the court her son’s siblings, ages 7 and 8, witnessed the shooting.
By taking the Alford plea, Sessoms was able to avoid the death penalty, and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the first-degree murder.
“[It] brings us a little bit of peace,” Parker told WRAL of the sentencing. “Knowing that we are walking out of here today and we don't have to come back. We don't have to see him. My girls do not have to testify in court. That was the whole reason why he took this plea. It was best for him to take this plea so it would not have to get our girls up there.”
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