ELYRIA — Elliott Kirkland will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole, after a jury decided to not recommend the death penalty for his role in the 2016 shooting death of Jimmie Holland Jr.
Instead the jury recommended that Kirkland, 29, of Lorain, be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, saying the aggravating circumstance of the crime did not outweigh the mitigating factors presented in the case. The jury could have recommended Kirkland receive the death penalty, life without the possibility of parole or life with the possibility of parole after either 25 or 30 years.
Last month, the jury found Kirkland guilty of aggravated murder in the killing of Holland, who was shot three times before bleeding to death in his apartment. Kirkland, Mark Sanchez, Jasmine Schafer and Latrice Thomas had planned to rob Holland, whom they believed to be a drug dealer whom they thought had a large amount of cash.
Testimony said that Kirkland and Sanchez entered the apartment while Holland was sleeping. When Holland woke up, he found the two men in his bedroom and tried to fight them off.
Sanchez testified that Kirkland shot Holland three times, grabbed a bag of money from the room and ran from the apartment.
Over the past week, Kirland’s defense attorneys have argued that their client’s upbringing was a mitigating factor in the crime. Testimony in the penalty phase of the trial said that Kirkland had been sexually abused as a child and had a rough life growing up in the projects in Cleveland.
Prosecutors had argued that Kirkland had chosen to lead the kind of life he’d led, to be a drug dealer and not pursue his education even though he was offered many opportunities to turn his life around.
Holland’s brother, William Holland, said he felt Kirkland should have received the death penalty.
“I think this was planned,” William Holland, who lives in Florida, said in a phone interview. “When you break into somebody’s house and you bring a gun with you, you’re planning to use it. If you just wanted to steal from him, you would have broke into the house while he was gone.
“Anytime somebody plans a murder, I think they should get the death penalty.”
William Holland wasn’t too upset with the jury’s decision, though.
“I appreciate that he got life without parole,” he said. “It’s still justice. That helps a lot, knowing that he’ll never be able to get out. I’m not totally upset.”
Kirkland will be sentenced by Judge James Miraldi on Feb. 22.
Sanchez, Schafer and Thomas reached plea agreements with prosecutors prior to Kirkland’s trial. All three had agreed to testify against Kirkland during the trial, though only Sanchez and Schafer were called to the stand.
Sanchez will be sentenced to 14 years in prison, Schafer to 11 years and Thomas will receive probation as part of their plea agreements, according to court documents. Sentencing dates for the three have not been set.
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