McGilberry was initially sentenced to death, but that was overturned when the Supreme Court banned the death penalty for juveniles. (Photo source: WLOX)
Sherry Wright, the aunt of convicted killer Stephen McGilberry. (Photo source: WLOX)
Defense attorneys will present evidence about McGilberry growing up in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father. (Photo source: WLOX)
JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -
He killed four family members with a baseball bat inside his St. Martin home in 1994. Just 16 years old at the time, Stephen McGilberry has spent the past 22 years in prison, but he was back in court for a resentencing hearing Tuesday.
A Jackson County judge will decide if McGilberry might be eligible for parole one day.
Originally sentenced to the death penalty, then later life without parole, McGilberry has become an ordained minister during his two decades behind bars.
Family members of his victims say he belongs in prison for the rest of his life following that gruesome crime in 1994.
“We miss our family. We miss them very bad. I don't know how much to tell you. What you did was wrong. In my heart. That baby, he had no chance,” Sherry Wright testified.
McGilberry is her nephew and killed Wright’s sister.
Defense attorney Thomas Fortner admits the scales of justice are never balanced in cases like this. However, he said it is the duty of the court to at least consider future parole for McGilberry.
“Now, after 22 years following the commission of the crime, he is seeking the chance, however slim it may be, to one day earn his freedom from incarceration,” Fortner told the court.
“I detected brain dysfunction,” said forensic psychologist Dr. Mark Zimmerman.
He testified McGilberry suffered depression, poor self-concept, and lacked a stable environment during his upbringing. The brain disorder affected decision making.
“When he had to make fairly simple decisions, he did well. But when they were more complex, he did poorly,” said Zimmerman.
Wright remains convinced her nephew is a danger.
“I think he should be locked up for protection of himself and for everybody else. He's a psychopath,” Wright told WLOX News Now.
Judge Robert Krebs will make a ruling after considering the testimony and reading the transcript from the trial in 1996.