By Web staff
MANSFIELD, Louisiana (KTBS) — A Mansfield man who showed no remorse during his trial last month for killing a motel desk clerk and attempting to kill a motel guest continued that defiance Monday during his sentencing.
But it was DeSoto District Judge Amy Burford McCartney who had the last word and sentenced Terry Dewayne Powell, 20, to life in prison plus 50 years. The sentencing followed emotional statements from the victims’ families
Powell killed Lynda Palmer, 75, of Mansfield on April 12 after robbing her of cash as she worked the night desk at Best Western Plus DeSoto Inn & Suites in Mansfield. He also shot motel patron, Matthew Yeager, of Texas, who was staying there with co-workers.
Video compiled from surveillance cameras from inside and outside the motel captured Palmer handing over cash to Powell then being shot as she went to a second register. Powell left the motel but returned an hour and a half later and encountered Yeager outside. Both went inside and that’s when Powell tried to rob Yeager and shot him.
Palmer’s death was unknown until Mansfield police and DeSoto sheriff’s deputies responded to Yeager’s 911 call for help. Powell was arrested hours later hiding in an abandoned apartment.
The jury was quick in January to convict Powell after watching the video. They found him guilty of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, armed robbery and attempted armed robbery.
Palmer’s daughters, Hope Rascoe and Heather Palmer, and son, Logan Matheny, gave victim impact statements Monday before Powell was sentenced. Their emotions were still raw as they recounted how their mother’s murder has affected them, their families and others.
The phone call that her mother had been shot and killed is something Rascoe said she relives daily. Palmer, she said, was not just a mother and grandmother, but her best friend.
Palmer continued to work because she loved people. “She had many more years to live,” Rascoe said. “She was stolen from us for no reason.”
She asked McCartney to sentence Powell to the maximum allowed, as she described Powell as a “menace to society” who had no right to live in it.
Lynda Palmer’s “beauty was undeniable,” her “laugh contagious,” and she had a “heart bigger than the entire planet,” said Heather Palmer.
She, too, asked for a maximum sentence for Powell, saying he shouldn’t “feel joy, sunshine or happiness ever again.”
Matheny shared how Lynda Palmer and her husband Joe took him in and raised him as one of their own. “Without her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today,” Matheny said. “No one understands what it’s like to have your mother taken in this way.”
Lavon Woods read a statement from Matthew Yeager’s wife. She told of the numerous surgeries Yeager has endured, months of hospitalization and rehabilitation, physical pain, financial strain and mental stress from survivor’s guilt.
“All because of your senseless act of violence,” said Woods as she looked directly at Powell.
McCartney asked Powell to stand for sentencing and said he would need to answer questions. Powell had to be proded to respond verbally.
When McCartney asked Powell the names of his parents, he said he didn’t know their names. He also said he didn’t know how many siblings he has.
Powell admitted to being a high school graduate, but denied having a criminal record as a juvenile, which McCartney corrected him on.
As McCartney prepared to impose the sentence, Powell continued to make inaudible statements to the court. She admonished him to stop talking, but he didn’t so she ordered him to be removed from the courtroom.
As Powell, who was handcuffed and shackled, was flanked by two bailiffs and rushed out of the room, Powell looked at the front row where Palmer’s family was sitting and grinned and blew kisses.
McCartney took a break before Powell was brought back into the courtroom on the opposite side from the family. McCartney told Powell his behavior was “derogatory” and “unacceptable.”
She also told him, “If you can’t stand silent, we will silence you.”
A roll of duct tape was on the bailiff’s desk.
Powell made no other remarks as McCartney sentenced him to the mandatory life in prison for the second-degree murder of Palmer, plus 99 years for her armed robbery. She then sentenced Powell to 50 years for the attempted second-degree murder of Yeager and added on 49.5 years for his attempted robbery.
Those sentences are to run concurrent with each other. However, since McCartney said she considered the crimes against Palmer and Yeager as separate offenses she made the sentences for each victim to run consecutive, which gives Powell the overall sentence of life plus 50 years.
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