Charman Sinkfield sat teary-eyed as family of the late boxer Vernon Forrest spoke in court.
“When Vernon died, a part of us died with him,” his brother, Lavert Forrest, said. “Why would anybody do this? How could anyone do something like this to Vernon?”
Sinkfield was convicted of murder Monday, seven years after he shot the well-known Georgia fighter during an armed robbery in July 2009. He was sentenced Friday to life without parole, avoiding the death penalty, according to Channel 2 Action News.
Two other men connected to the crime, Demario Ware and Jquante Crews, were convicted in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Ware was the armed robber and Crews was the getaway driver.
The three men robbed Forrest while he was pumping air into his tires at a gas station about 11 p.m. on July 25, 2009, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Forrest’s then 11-year-old godson had just gone inside the store to buy some snacks and use the bathroom. The men stole a “4X World Champion” ring and a gold Rolex watch from Forrest, who ran after them and exchanged gunfire before he turned his back.
That’s when Sinkfield fired seven to eight shots in Forrest’s back. Surveillance footage and witness accounts eventually led police to the three men.
Forrest’s mother wiped away tears in court as the guilty verdict was read Monday, Channel 2 reported.
Prosecutors requested the death penalty, but Forrest’s family didn’t ask for it. To them, their pain is a sentence in itself.
“The irony in all of this is that you didn’t have to rob Vernon,” friend Michael Vail said. “You didn’t have to kill Vernon. All you had to do is walk to him and ask him.”
Sinkfield’s family testified about an abusive past. Cousin Shandrell Turner lived with Sinkfield and his family for about a year, Channel 2 reported. She said he was raised by an abusive father, who would beat his wife and screamed at his children.
“Then he would beat them with whatever he had,” she said as she asked Forrest’s family members and jurors to have mercy on Sinkfield.
But prosecutors told a different story of Sinkfield, who they say is a five-time felon, Channel 2 reported, and showed no mercy when he shot Forrest.