Originally created 11/13/97

Palmer gets additional 60 years

A Burke County man already sentenced to die twice for the shooting deaths of his estranged wife and her daughter was sentenced Wednesday to an additional 60 years in prison on cruelty, kidnapping and other charges.

A Washington County jury in Sandersville decided Saturday that Willie Palmer, 45, of Gough, should die after finding him guilty of murdering Brenda Jenkins Palmer, 31, and her 15-year-old daughter, Christine Jenkins.

Mr. Palmer was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years on a burglary charge, 10 years on a kidnapping charge, 20 years on a cruelty to children charge and five years each on two firearms charges, District Attorney Danny Craig said.

"We think this is one of the most heinous crimes we've had occasion to prosecute, and it was deserving of the sentence that was imposed," Mr. Craig said.

The judge also set an execution date between Dec. 13 and Dec. 20, although the Georgia Department of Corrections will pick the exact day, he said. Georgia law provides for an automatic appeal of any death sentence, which makes it unlikely an execution could be carried out that soon.

"I understand it's the law in Georgia that, after you get the death penalty, you get an appeal," said John Henry Jenkins, Ms. Palmer's brother. "But for a man like Willie Palmer, they need to come up with some other law, to protect people .... A person like Willie Palmer needs no kind of justice. He shouldn't even exist. It should be a law that, if a person is found guilty, they shouldn't wait around."

It took jurors two hours and 10 minutes to reach the unanimous decision to sentence Mr. Palmer to death after Mr. Craig asked them to consider the terror of Christine's and Ms. Palmer's last moments on Sept. 10, 1995, when they were gunned down in their two-room house in Vidette.

Mr. Palmer burst through the door and shot Christine, then walked into Ms. Palmer's room where she was clutching their toddler. He shot her twice in the head after his nephew, Frederico Palmer, ripped the baby from her arms, Mr. Craig told the jury. The 15-month-old was left with the two bodies.

Frederico Palmer pleaded guilty to two counts of murder in the deaths and is serving two consecutive life sentences. He testified against his uncle.

Mr. Palmer's trial was moved to Sandersville after a mistrial was declared in his April trial in Burke County Superior Court in Waynesboro.


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