A six-year-old murder case was closed last week in the DeKalb County courthouse with the conviction of a man accused of raping, torturing then fatally beating his autistic girlfriend.
Delroy Booth, 31, was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus 20 years for the brutal slaying of Shantle Vason.
He is eligible for parole on both life sentences, however, because he committed the crimes before state law was changed to mandate life without parole for murder and felony murder convictions, court officials said.
Sometime between Feb. 23 and 24 of 2007, prosecutors say Booth beat his 35-year-old girlfriend to a point that her face was unrecognizable, causing a brain injury that eventually led to her death.
“Either right before or right after he killed her, he called her mother or sister to say she had cheated on him,” DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said.
A DeKalb County jury on Friday found Booth guilty of six charges of a seven-count indictment that included murder, aggravated assault, felony murder – causing someone’s death while committing a felony – aggravated sexual battery and two counts of aggravated battery.
Booth lived with Vason for several months before the incident, authorities said.
He had served two years of a five-year sentence from 2007 to 2009 in the Autry State Prison for conviction on a 2004 stalking charge, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. But the prison stint didn’t begin until nearly seven months after Vason’s death.
Booth also served two years in state prison for a 2001 Clayton County robbery conviction, prison records show.
James said he’d initially considered seeking the death penalty for Booth “because of the violent nature” of the case, but backed off upon further investigation.
“There were two sets of DNA,” he said, noting that the source of evidence that did not come from Booth was unclear.
Assistant district attorney Angel Riley, one of the prosecutors on the case, said that although the jury acquitted Booth of the aggravated sodomy charge, jurors told her after the trial that prosecutors weren’t able to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.
“The jurors that spoke with us told us that they did not have the evidence, although they believed that he likely did,” Riley said.