Mississippi man convicted in shooting deaths of eight people

MAGNOLIA, MISSISSIPPI (AP) — A Mississippi jury on Tuesday convicted a man for the 2017 shooting deaths of eight people, including some of his own relatives and a deputy sheriff who responded to a domestic disturbance call.

Willie Cory Godbolt, 37, was found guilty on all charges against him after jurors heard nine days of testimony and a partial day of closing arguments, WLBT-TV reported.

The trial entered a second phase yesterday, with jurors deciding whether to impose the death penalty for four capital murder convictions.

If they cannot reach unanimous agreement on that, the judge will sentence Godbolt to life in prison.

Godbolt spoke to the jury during closing arguments on Tuesday, saying he expected to be killed on the night of the slayings.

“What came from that night was not the fruit of my heart, but of my perception,” Godbolt said. He denied that he tried to control his wife. “To the end of my life I will always adore Sheena Fay Godbolt.”

Godbolt was convicted of four counts of capital murder, four counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of armed robbery.

According to testimony during the trial, Godbolt went to his in-laws’ home on May 27, 2017, and argued with his estranged wife about their children. Lincoln County Deputy Sheriff William Durr, Barbara Mitchell, Toccara May and Brenda May were shot to death at that home that night.

Two more people — 18-year-old Jordan Blackwell and 11-year-old Austin Edwards — were killed at a second home in the early hours of May 28, 2017.

Ferral Burage and Sheila Burage, a married couple, were shot to death at a third home a few hours later. Godbolt was arrested near a business as he walked from the Burages’ house, investigators said.