Wrongful death judgment awarded from 2017 Bogue Chitto murders

Published 1:13 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Three family members of a woman slain in 2017 have been awarded millions in a wrongful death suit against their relative’s convicted killer, though funds may never be collected.

In May 2018, Christiana May-Kelly, Tiara Williams, and Deion Williams — all heirs and beneficiaries of Sheila Burage, a victim in the murders of which Godbolt was convicted in 2020 — filed suit seeking punitive damages and compensation in the amount of $11 million. Shon and Tiffany Blackwell and Shayla Edwards also filed a wrongful death suit seeking the maximum damages allowed under State law.

One of those cases has gone to court and was decided in favor of the victim’s family.

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On June 17, 2024, Judge David Strong ruled for the plaintiffs in a wrongful death suit against convicted murderer Willie Cory Godbolt. May-Kelly and the Williamses were awarded $1 million each for compensatory damages, and a total of $15 million for punitive damages.

Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge Strong was also the presiding judge in Godbolt’s murder trial in 2020. Godbolt was found guilty by a DeSoto County jury on four counts of capital murder in the deaths of Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputy William Durr, Austin Edwards, Jordan Blackwell, and Sheila Burage; four counts of murder in the deaths of Brenda May, Toccara May, Barbara Mitchell and Ferral Burage; one count of attempted murder on LCSO deputy Timothy Kees; two counts of kidnapping of LaPeatra Stafford and Xavier Lilly; and one count of armed robbery for taking a car at gunpoint from Alfred Bracey and Henry Bracey, which belonged to Wykeshia Johnson.

Godbolt still has the option to appeal the wrongful death verdict. Multiple appeals over several years may be available, and it is as yet unknown of the plaintiffs will ever actually receive any payment.