Escaped convict found guilty of barbershop slaying

AP News
Posted: Jun 12, 2013 9:13 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A man who allegedly escaped from prison in hopes of avenging his mother's shooting was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday after being convicted of killing a barbershop customer, wounding the barber, and then injuring two officers during a shootout with police.

Tamik Kirkland of Springfield, who turned 27 during his trial, was found guilty in Hampden Superior Court of first-degree murder and a variety of other charges stemming from the shooting that killed Sheldon Innocent, 24, of Wilbraham, a customer at Bill Brown's House of Beauty in April 2011.

Kirkland was given a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the chance of parole.

Authorities have said Innocent was not the intended target and Kirkland was gunning for the barber, Darryl King, who was seriously wounded.

Kirkland was then involved in a shootout with police and struck a city officer and a state trooper in the exchange of gunfire. The officers suffered minor injuries and credited their body armor with saving their lives. Kirkland was shot multiple times.

Kirkland, who was serving time on weapons convictions, escaped from the state's minimum-security prison in Shirley five days before the shootings. The escape led to an overhaul of security procedures at the prison.

Authorities have said he wanted revenge for the nonfatal shooting of his mother, and King is the father of the man he thinks shot his mother. But prosecutors were not allowed to tell the jury about Kirkland's prison escape or his mother's shooting.

Defense lawyer Andrew Klyman said Kirkland had nothing to do with the barbershop shootings and tried to avoid police because he was wanted for his prison escape.

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The Springfield Republican reports ( another of his defense lawyers, Nikolas Andreopoulos, said at Kirkland's sentencing he was not offering an excuse, but that Kirkland was overcome by the love he had for his mother when he fled prison. He said Kirkland had called his mother on her birthday, and learned she was in the hospital.

Innocent's widow, Savannah Innocent, cried as she tried to give a pre-sentencing statement in court. She had a picture of their son, Xavier, 11 months old when his father was killed, given to Judge Tina Page.

Page told her and other family members, "This little boy is what you have to live for — Xavier."