A Mississippi man who fatally shot eight people after an argument with his estranged wife nearly three years ago has been sentenced to death.
Willie Cory Godbolt, 37, was convicted this week of fatally shooting eight people, including several relatives and a sheriff’s deputy, in May 2017. He was found guilty on four counts of capital murder, four counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping, attempted murder, and armed robbery, according to officials. He was sentenced Thursday.
As the trial wrapped up this week, Godbolt addressed the court in a series of rambling remarks about religion and the devil.
“The devil came to kill and destroy,” Godbolt said in reference to the shooting, according to CBS News. "My life came to a screeching halt. I couldn't fight the battle that was raging inside me."
“My Lord, why hast thou forsaken me?” he asked earlier.
As he continued ranting, a woman shouted for him to shut up.
"Cory, just shut up! Just stop!" the woman yelled, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors, who described the case as “horrific,” called Godbolt an attention-hungry “narcissist” with a “controlling personality.”
“He was just trying to gain attention,” Dewitt Bates, Pike County District Attorney, told Oxygen.com. “I really didn’t listen to a lot of what he said. I chose to tune it out.”
Bates was satisfied with the jury's decision in the case and he hoped the victims' families would find some solace in Godbolt's conviction, he said.
Some family members of Godbolt's victims also addressed the court this week.
"Our lives have been changed forever,” Tiffany Blackwell, the mother of Jordan Blackwell, one of Godbolt’s victims told the court, WAPT reported. “None of us will ever be the same. It’s a daily struggle just to get up in the morning, but I go on because of my family.”
Godbolt’s gruesome shooting spree began in the evening hours of May 27, 2017 at a home in Brookhaven, Mississippi, according to an indictment obtained by Oxygen.com.
The 37-year-old snapped following a dispute with his wife related to their children, prosecutors said. He pulled out a pistol and opened fire on his wife's family, killing his mother-in-law, Barbara Mitchell, 55, his sister-in-law, Toccara May, 35, and his wife's aunt Brenda May, 53.
Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputy William Durr, who had responded to the home after reports of a domestic disturbance, was also shot to death, according to Jackson, Mississippi daily newspaper the Clarion-Ledger.
Jordan Blackwell, 18, and 11-year-old Austin Edwards were also killed by Godbolt at a second residence hours later, the New York Times reported. Investigators later learned that the two boys were cousins and that Blackwell's mother was a friend of Godbolt's wife. Two more individuals, Ferral and Sheila Burage, were shot and killed at a separate location before authorities managed to arrest Godbolt. The married couple were also friends of Sheena Godbolt, officials said.
Sheena Godbolt was wounded but survived her husband's rampage. She’s since filed for divorce, prosecutors said.
Godbolt’s arrest was captured on camera by Clarion-Ledger reporter Therese Apel. In the video, a number of deputies, officers, and agents from several law enforcement agencies can be seen hovering over the handcuffed shooter.
“My intentions was to have y’all to kill me,” Godbolt calmly told the camera. “I ran out of bullets.”
“That’s a good thing they showed mercy,” the reporter replied.
While sitting on the pavement with his hands behind his back and his right arm bandaged, Godbolt then seemingly confessed to the killing spree in the unnerving and recorded exchange with the local reporter.
“Suicide by cop was my intention,” Goodbolt muttered. “I ain’t fit to live. Not after what I done. Not in your eyes, not in anybody else’s eyes. But God, he forgives you for everything.”
The county’s lead prosecutor explained the trial was particularly “traumatizing” for the victims’ families — but also highlighted how the case deeply impacted attorneys, law enforcement, dispatchers, and jurors.
“It’s shocking in nature,” Bates added. “It’s probably one of the most heinous domestic violence cases you’ll ever see.”
The judge also ordered Godbolt to pay fines of $5,000 per count, as well as court costs, officials said.
Godbolt's public defenders, Alison Steiner and Katherine Poor, didn't immediately respond to Oxygen.com's request for comment on Friday.
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