Jury delivers death sentences to Godbolt

Published 7:20 pm Thursday, February 27, 2020

Two days after a jury found Cory Godbolt guilty of capital murder in the shooting death of a Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputy and three other people, the 10 women and two men sentenced the Bogue Chitto man to death for his crimes.

Judge David Strong Thursday set Godbolt’s execution for July 15 in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, however direct appeal for Godbolt is automatic. That will likely be followed by multiple avenues of appeal.

It was emotional end to an event that began 33 months ago in an eight-hour rampage when Godbolt took the lives of William Durr, Brenda May, Toccara May, Barbara Mitchell, Jordan Blackwell, Austin Edwards, Ferral Burage and Sheila Burage, tried to kill deputy Timothy Kees, kidnapped LaPeatra Stafford and Xavier Lilly and forced Henry and Alfred Bracey to hand over keys to a car at gunpoint.

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Godbolt, 37, stood before the jury, begged for his life and tried to explain away his actions. That caused his ex-wife Sheena May, who was sitting four rows behind the jury to scream at him about killing her mother, which caused the judge to stop Godbolt’s prepared speech and send the jury out for a break.

May did not return to the courtroom.

Godbolt showed little emotion as Lincoln County Circuit Deputy Clerk Jackie Banks read the sentences set forth unanimously by the jurors for the four capital murder counts.

After the jury left the courtroom and just before Strong announced the sentences for the other eight crimes, Godbolt opted to speak one last time.

“I don’t have animosity, any hatred, anything for anybody because God remains in my heart. I thank y’all. I love y’all,” he said.

Godbolt received life in prison for the deaths of Brenda May, Toccara May, Barbara Mitchell and Ferral Burage, life in prison for the attempted murder of Kees and life for the kidnapping of Xavier Lilly, 20 years for the kidnapping of LaPeatra Stafford and 20 years for the armed robbery.

All sentences, except the four death sentences, will run concurrently.

After Godbolt was escorted out in handcuffs, Rev. Shon Blackwell, surrounded by the family of all of the victims, spoke to the people remaining in the courtroom.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “One thing we’ve all done is kept God first. Our prayers go out to the Godbolt siblings, to the aunts and uncles, because I know they suffer the same way we do having to relive what happened May 27 and May 28, 2017. It’s been trying, but through it all we kept faith. Through it all, most of us, especially our church family, we’ve been praying that Cory got saved. Today we consider it a loss but a victory at the same time.”

The trial began with jury selection in DeSoto County Feb. 10 then moved into the guilt phase Feb. 15 at the Pike County Courthouse in Magnolia. The jury reached a verdict of guilty on all 12 counts Tuesday and heard victim impact testimony in the sentencing phase Wednesday and today.

Godbolt, who has been housed in Copiah County Jail since his arrest May 28, 2017, following a killing spree that started the night of May 27, 2017, was immediately taken into state custody and likely will be taken to the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl for processing before he’ll become an inmate at Parchman.

Godbolt will join 40 inmates on death row, according to records from the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Of those, 39 are male — 23 are black, 16 are white and one is Asian. The youngest inmate on death row is 28 years old, the oldest is 73. The longest serving inmate has been on death row for 42 years.

The last inmate executed was Gary Carl Simmons, 49, a white male convicted of capital murder. Simmons, a grocery store butcher in Pascagoula, was executed by lethal injection at Parchman June 20, 2012. He was found guilty of using his meat carving knives to dismember a man he owed for drugs and then scattering the body parts in an alligator-infested bayou in 1996.

Mississippi executed six inmates in 2012, the highest number carried out by the state in a single year since 1956, when there were eight executions.