A jury sentenced cop-killer William Woodard Oct. 19 to spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering two DeKalb County police officers in 2008.
Woodard admitted to shooting the officers but claimed he did it in self-defense after the officers pulled him out of a car and began beating and shooting at him. He was later found guilty on all counts.
Woodard received a sentence of life in prison without parole, a sentence he previously turned down as a plea agreement. He faced the death penalty.
A jury convicted Woodard, 34, of shooting DeKalb County Police officers Eric Barker, 34, and Ricky Bryant Jr., 26, while they were working as off-duty security at Glenwood Gardens Apartments. The officers approached a vehicle in the apartment parking lot and Woodard got out of the car and began shooting.
During an emotional sentencing portion of the trial, witnesses were called by prosecutors and the defense. Latoya Bryant testified on behalf of her husband and asked jurors to sentence Woodard to death.
“How do you explain to your child[ren] that their dad is never coming back?” Latoya Bryant asked. “Then you have to explain that the reason their dad is no longer here is because a man did not take the time to think about his own actions.”
Juanita Graves, Woodard’s aunt, broke down on the stand while testifying on his behalf. Graves was asking jurors to spare Woodard’s life when she broke into tears and began screaming.
Graves testified prior to the outburst that she had a history of mental illness. Prosecutors then declined to cross-examine Graves due to her mental state and she was escorted out of the courtroom.
Both Barker and Bryant were married with four children. DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James argued that Woodard, a three-time convicted felon, didn’t want to go back to jail and that’s why he killed the officers.
During the trial, both sides presented evidence, including ballistics experts and eyewitness testimony, as well as 911 recordings made the night of the shooting.