Defense attorney Robb Hunter, right, speaks on behalf of Jermaine Harrison during Harrison’s sentencing hearing Monday afternoon at the Dougherty County Jail.
ALBANY, Ga. — An Albany man was sentenced to life in prison, plus a 20-year term after being convicted of beating another into a coma from which the victim likely will never awake.
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Jermaine Darnell Harrison, 26, received the sentence from Chief Dougherty Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette Monday afternoon in the courtroom at the Dougherty County Jail.
Harrison was convicted of kidnapping with bodily injury and aggravated battery for beating James Donterris Wheeler III near the 1500 block of Elva Street on March 17, 2012.
Prosecutor Matthew Breedon told Lockette during the sentencing hearing that doctors say Wheeler likely will never awaken from his coma, arguing that the trial was “the closest thing to a murder case” because Wheeler likely won’t recover from the coma.
Harrison’s family, including his mother and sister, pleaded with Lockette to be merciful.
“Y’all have painted him to be some kind of monster,” Latoya Harrison said from the rear of the room. “That’s not the person I grew up with and knew. His family needs him.”
His mother also spoke, pointing to the fact that her son was convicted on circumstantial evidence and asking that the judge show mercy.
Wheeler’s family wasn’t present at the hearing, and his fiance wrote down her feelings in a victim impact statement that was filed as part of the official record.
“My kids are really hurt, and I can’t express how much I am hurting now,” Letisha Williams wrote. “We don’t understand how people can be so cruel as to do what they did to him.”
Harrison will be eligible for parole once he completes 30 years in the state prison system.