Justice for Janaya: Neighbors react to death sentence

Justice for Janaya: Neighbors react to death sentence
Janaya Thompson (Photo source: Facebook)
Alberto Garcia was sentenced to death Wednesday (Photo source: WLOX)
Alberto Garcia was sentenced to death Wednesday (Photo source: WLOX)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - When Janaya Thompson's body was found inside a Gulfport trailer in 2014, it left the neighborhood saddened and stunned. Now, those neighbors believe justice for Janaya is achieved.

"Justice. It was served right today, and he deserved to die," Ora Braziel said.

It's a crime that has haunted Whitney Dr. residents like Teresita King for more than two years.

"If you were here at that time when they were getting her body there, you would have cried," said King.

The memory is still there for King, who is a grandmother. From her home, you can see where the 5-year-old's body was found. Today, the memory is a little less painful.

"It's not really gladness, because it's killing somebody else, but it is a relief that that guy won't be in the public anymore," King said.

Braziel said she's known Janaya's family most of her life. Although she believes the judge's decision to impose the death penalty was the right one, it doesn't take away from the horrors her community has gone through.

"What would have happened if this would have happened to one of my grandkids," Braziel said. "I feel so sorry for that baby. I really do. She had no chance to make it and live her life."

In the days right after Janaya's body was found, neighbors showed their support by setting up a memorial. Mother of two Renee Cuevas helped search for Janaya. She's hopeful the death sentence will bring some comfort to the family.

"I'm glad that he got the death penalty and the parents have a little bit of peace," Cuevas said. "I know that it's still going to be hard for them, and it's a long road, but at least they know that they got him behind bars and he's getting the death penalty."

Even though Alberto Garcia has learned his fate, that doesn't mean life will ever be the same again for people like Braziel.

"Everyday I walk out my door, I think about that baby," Braziel said. "I have grandkids that we sit and watch play every day. I won't even let the kids go outside. I even have a 16-year-old I have to watch, because who can we trust now?"

Janaya's family also wrote a note, thanking the police department and district attorney for their work:

First of all, I want to thank God. I want to thank the District Attorney Joel and Crosby and their staff, the chief of police and his staff, my friends and family. And everyone for prayers and support through all of our hard times. Now my granddaughter can rest in peace and we have closure.

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