MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A man convicted of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a police officer in Tennessee was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee read the sentence for 41-year-old Tremaine Wilbourn after a jury recommended the punishment. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty.
The same jury found Wilbourn guilty of first-degree murder, carjacking and weapons charges in the August 2015 killing of Officer Sean Bolton in Memphis.
Bolton, who was white, is one of four police officers to be fatally shot in Memphis since July 2011. Wilbourn is black.
Wilbourn agreed to serve life in prison without parole in a deal offered by prosecutors after his conviction Sunday. But Bolton’s family rejected the deal and a sentencing hearing was held.
During the sentencing hearing, a witness testified that Wilbourn had a troubled childhood and suffered from depression after his mother abandoned Wilbourn and her other children to be raised by another person, news outlets reported.
Police said Bolton interrupted a drug deal in a car Wilbourn occupied in a residential neighborhood. Wilbourn got out of the vehicle, and he and Bolton got into a physical struggle. Wilbourn took out a gun and shot Bolton, police said.
A witness called police through the officer’s radio. An autopsy report shows Bolton, 33, was shot eight times.
Wilbourn already has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison on weapons charges related to Bolton’s killing.
In court documents during his federal trial, prosecutors said Wilbourn carjacked a vehicle a few minutes after the shooting, telling the motorist that “he needed the car because he had just shot a police officer.”
His lawyer, Juni Ganguli, said during the state trial that his client did not intend to kill Bolton.
After Bolton’s shooting, Wilbourn led officers on an intense, two-day manhunt before turning himself in to U.S. marshals.
At the time of the shooting, Wilbourn was on federal probation after serving prison time for armed bank robbery.
Bolton’s death three years ago came about two weeks after 19-year-old Darrius Stewart was fatally shot during a struggle with Officer Connor Schilling during a fight after a traffic stop. Stewart was black. Schilling was white. A grand jury declined to charge Schilling in Stewart’s shooting.
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