UPDATE: 5:17 pm
Nkosi Thandiwe has been sentenced to life without parole.
There was no rejoicing or tears visible when the verdict was announced in the courtroom, just a general sense of sadness.
UPDATE: 4:30 pm
Brian Watts, the husband of the woman who died in the shooting spree, testified during Thursday afternoon's sentencing hearing that he lost his soulmate the day his wife was killed.
"I'm truly lost," he said. "I realize that the worst day of my life has passed, but I also realize the best days of my life are passed."
Other members of the Watts family asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence of life without parole.
"We lost a part of our heart, we will never be the same," said her grandmother, Rita Anderson.
Jurors have returned a verdict in the murder trial of former Midtown security guard Nkosi Thandiwe, finding him guilty and rejecting the options of not guilty by reason of insanity and guilty but insane.
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski told jurors that the case is about responsibility, and there is no question that Thandiwe shot three women in July 2011, killing one, paralyzing another and leaving a third with scars from the bullet wounds to her leg.
“He told you the reason he shot those people was because he adopted the racists' attitudes and wanted to start a revolution through violence," Dunikoski told jurors Thursday. "These are his words.”
Dunikoski said the defense has offered no evidence that Thandiwe had a history of mental illness and she asked jurors to reject possible verdicts of not guilty by reason of insanity or gulity but insane.
“All that the state asks of the jury, is to hold him responsible for his actions,” she said.
“People who are mentally insane or ill have a history. There is none whatsoever. The defendant did not even claim he had a history of mental illness. Did you here anything about doctors or ongoing treatment? None whatsoever.”
“It was almost like watching myself in action. ... I tell her to get out of (her) car. She screams. I fire. She drops to the ground.”
The AJC reported that Thandiwe also discussed being angry at white people, and his feeling that Europeans are responsible for "a lot of evil today," beliefs that he developed while studying anthropology at the University of West Georgia.
Dunikoski told jurors Thursday that the former security guard “turned himself in a racist” despite being raised in a good home with two parents and having the benefits of "The American Dream."
During the sentencing hearing, Thandiwe's mother, Lynnae, testified that her son told her he had a "breakdown" while he was away at college. She urged him to return to school because she thought that would be best for him.
"He's not a monster," she said, as she asked the judge for leniency. "He is a loving member of our family. Nothing can be gained by putting him in jail for the rest of his life."
After the sentencing hearing was over, Lynnae Thandiwe and Lauren Garcia, the victim who testified that she will never walk again, embraced outside the courtroom.
Public Defender Wes Bryant had asked the jury to find Thandiwe not guilty by reason of insanity.
"Some of the witness testimony even supports his insanity. Witnesses say he had blank facial expressions, he was driving like a maniac,” Bryant said.
“Nkosi said he was like a third person, watching what was going on. Not being able to control the actions of the shooter. Watching as the shooter demanded the car. Nkosi was watching as he drove out the lot and fired senseless shots out the window.”
Before closing arguments began Thursday morning, Judge Kelly A. Lee dismissed a juror for having contact with a local TV station cameraman. The juror reportedly approached the cameraman to talk and the journalist reported the contact to court officials.
Last April, Garcia, Ferenczy, and Watts's husband, Brian, filed separate lawsuits against Allied Barton Security Services and the owners of the building in Fulton County Superior Court. Allied Barton employed Thandiwe as a security guard at the building and the complaints claim negligence on the part of the company.
WSB-TV reported the lawsuit said the accused shooter may have acted based on racial motivations.
The news outlet reported that weeks before the shooting, Thandiwe had been involved in an altercation with a building visitor, as WSB said he “assailed a visiting courier with racial epithets and had to be physically restrained by company personnel from striking and causing harm to visitors.”
Judge Kelly A. Lee of Fulton County Superior Court ordered a mental evaluation for Thandiwe in November 2011. Lee ruled the following spring that Thandiwe was capable of comprehending what was happening during a trial.
Thandiwe lived in a modest home off of Campbellton Road, and comes from a well respected SW Atlanta family.
Check back for continuing updates.
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