Darius Sessoms, 28, of North Carolina, received a life sentence without the possibility of parole Thursday for the 2020 murder of a 5-year-old boy, escaping possible capital punishment as part of a plea deal, according to WRAL.
A witness said Sessoms shot 5-year-old Cannon Hinnant as the boy rode his bike outside his father’s Wilson, North Carolina, house, the outlet reported.
Hinnant’s mother, Bonny Parker, said his 7 and 8-year-old sisters witnessed the shooting.
Sessoms, who was a next-door neighbor to Hinnant’s father, took an Alford plea, which allows a defendant to maintain their innocence but admit sufficient prosecutorial evidence to convict them, according to WRAL.
In the news: Idaho Murder Suspect Bryan Kohberger, A Ph.D. Student In Criminology, Arrested In Pennsylvania
He was already a felon with multiple prison sentences on his record when he murdered Hinnant, CBS reported.
Sessoms parents’ said he seemed to be hallucinating on the day of the shooting and may have been on drugs, according to The Wilson Times.
“[It] brings us a little bit of peace,” Parker told WRAL Thursday, after previously advocating for a death sentence. “Knowing that we are walking out of here today and we don’t have to come back. We don’t have to see him. My girls do not have to testify in court. That was the whole reason why he took this plea. It was best for him to take this plea so it would not have to get our girls up there.”
Sessoms’ girlfriend when the killing took place, Aolani Pettit, received a four to 14-month suspended sentence and 18 months of supervised probation after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice in the case, the outlet reported.