DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — A man accused of killing three homeless men and a woman walking to her car pleaded guilty Monday to murder and other charges in two of the deaths just outside Atlanta and received two consecutive life sentences without a chance of parole.
Aeman Presley entered the pleas Monday in DeKalb County Superior Court, telling Judge Gregory A. Adams that he does "accept and take full responsibility for the crimes I have committed."
DeKalb County prosecutors were seeking the death penalty for the 35-year-old Presley in the December 2014 shooting of hair stylist Karen Pearce and had also charged him in the September 2014 killing of Calvin Gholston. He still faces charges in the fatal shootings of two homeless men in neighboring Fulton County, and prosecutors there are seeking the death penalty.
Presley's attorneys Jerilyn Bell and Crystal Bice said he accepts "unmitigated responsibility." They still believe, though, that he has a form of schizophrenia which played a role in the killings. They declined on Monday to discuss the possibility of a plea in Fulton County and said the case there is moving forward. A spokesman for Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard declined comment on Monday.
DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said a guilty plea that ensured Presley could never be released was the best resolution. He also expressed reluctance to pursue the death penalty when a defendant is willing to accept responsibility and a life sentence.
"The most important thing for us was a sentence where he would never see the light of day again," James said. "Someone that commits such a random act of violence ... deserves to be in jail for the rest of their life."
Police have said Presley shot Gholston, 53, multiple times as he slept outside a shopping center near Atlanta on Sept. 27, 2014. A woman who found Gholston's body told officers he had been living in an alleyway near the shopping center for at least two months, according to a police report.
He then killed Dorian Jenkins, 42, on Nov. 23, 2014, followed by Tommy Mims, 68, on Nov. 26, 2014, police have said. Both men were homeless and were wrapped in blankets sleeping on the sidewalk in Atlanta when police say Presley shot them to death. Jenkins was shot five times and Mims seven times in what police described as "overkill."
Just over a week later, on Dec. 6, 2014, Pearce, 44, was robbed and fatally shot as she walked to her car after a dinner out with friends in downtown Decatur, just outside Atlanta.
A statement from Pearce's parents read aloud on Monday said she was studying to become a nurse and wanted to help others. The statement said Pearce's mother frequently has nightmares about her daughter's final moments and described the family as "shocked to the core of our being."
"Our hearts suffer from the deepest wound from which it will never recover," the statement read.
Presley later read aloud from a pre-written statement, saying he is "not a serial killer" and wants his daughter and two sons living in other states "to know what taking responsibility for your actions truly is."
"What I did was ungodly, unrighteous and dishonorable and plain wrong," he said, speaking quietly but clearly. "Although I can't change the past for your loved ones, for you or even for myself, I can only apologize to the families, the friends and the loved ones."