GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – A jury has determined that Leslie Galloway III deserves the death penalty for raping, burning, and running over a 17-year-old Harrison Central High School student.
Just before 2:00 pm Friday, jurors returned to the Harrison County courtroom. They spent about two hours deliberating a sentence for the convicted capital murderer. Thursday, the same jury determined that the Moss Point man was guilty of the December, 2008 murder of Shakeylia Anderson.
Prosecutors convinced a jury that Leslie Galloway used his mother's car to drag Shakeylia Anderson after he had raped her, cut her throat, and set her on fire. It wasn't until the murder trial that Shakeylia's mother found out about her last moments.
"It's been hard," Sandra Anderson said. "I knew she suffered, but I didn't know she went through all she did."
The Anderson family's nearly two year wait for justice ended when jurors convicted Galloway of capital murder after two hours of deliberations.
"It was overwhelming. It was joyful," said Shakeylia's father, Jerry Anderson. "They came out with the right verdict. The verdict that I was looking for."
Tawonna Pope is Shakeylia's cousin.
"I'm just so happy that we got the verdict that we got, because justice was served. He got what he deserved, because she didn't deserve what she got. What he got, I'm just extremely happy, brought tears to all our eyes."
There were also tears of anguish shed at the Harrison County courthouse. Leslie Galloway's mother was not in the courtroom when the verdict came in, but she said she plans to testify during his sentencing phase.
She talked with WLOX off camera about her worst fears.
"I don't know what happened that night," Ollie Varghese said. "My son is not a monster. I just don't want him to get the death penalty. That's my baby. Both families are hurting behind this. If I could bring her back, I would."
But no one can bring Shakeylia back, and the girl's mother said the man who took her daughter's life deserves to die.
"I haven't been able to sleep and I still won't be able to sleep until his eyes are closed," Sandra Anderson said.
A witness testified she saw Shakeylia get into a car Leslie Galloway was driving the night of her murder. Galloway also admitted to police that he had picked her up. Traces of Shakeylia's remains were found under the car.