March 1, 2011
Posted: 03:44 PM ET
Atlanta, GA – After a long trial, the verdict and sentencing of Christopher Sutton were delivered pretty quickly. The jury deliberated for just 12 hours. They started right around 3:00 in the afternoon on July 20, spending two hours behind closed doors. They started again the next day at 9:00 a.m. The unanimous verdict was official by 7:00 that evening. They found Sutton guilty on every count: the first-degree murder of his mother, Susan; attempted first-degree murder of his father, John; attempted first-degree felony murder; and armed burglary with assault and battery. Even though he didn’t pull the trigger, the jury agreed he masterminded a murder-for-hire plot aimed at his own parents.
After the verdict was read, the jury was dismissed and the attorneys agreed to proceed with the sentencing immediately. The gripping victim impact statements by Christopher’s father, sister and aunt were clearly full of painful, raw emotion.
John Sutton conveyed the depth of his loss, that of his wife, his eyesight and now, his son. Even Judge Stanford Blake was clearly moved by this case: he reflected on the irony that this trial, his last criminal trial before voluntarily transferring to family court, was such an intense family tragedy. Saying he was very much a family man himself, the judge reiterated John Sutton’s testimony recalling his pride and joy on the day he brought his adopted son home, even remembering exactly what baby Christopher was wearing. Judge Blake remembers the same joy he felt at the birth of his own son and also recalled what his infant son wore that day. Ironically, it was exactly the same day that Christopher Sutton was born. A clearly emotional Judge Blake fought back tears as he delivered three consecutive life sentences and quickly left the courtroom.
-Jim Kyle, In Session Field Producer
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