Originally created 03/01/05

Man sentenced to life in prison



One of two men accused of killing Shanequa Carpenter in front of her children last June pleaded guilty Monday.

Earnest Bussey, 22, admitted his guilt in Richmond County Superior Court, but he had no explanation for why he participated in the strangulation death of the 24-year-old mother of three.

"Mr. Bussey, I would like to know why you killed our child," Ms. Carpenter's grandmother Alice Carpenter asked Monday.

District Attorney Danny Craig said neither Mr. Bussey nor 23-year-old Cardale D. Gibbons offered any reason why Ms. Carpenter was killed.

It was, he said, the most senseless killing he has ever seen.

Mr. Gibbons has pleaded not guilty. His trial is pending.

On June 4, Ms. Carpenter left her Barclay Street home with her two youngest children, who were 2 and 11 months. Her family told investigators that she was headed to the grocery store that afternoon. She never returned.

Late that night on Meadowbrook Drive, motorists found Ms. Carpenter's babies. One driver nearly ran over the 2-year-old, who had wandered into the middle of the street, Mr. Craig said.

Ms. Carpenter's car was discovered the next day, and on June 6, firefighters found her body burning on Pebble Creek Road.

"She was my only child," Leverne Henderson said in court Monday. She was robbed of seeing her baby's first birthday, and of seeing her oldest son off to his first day of kindergarten, Mrs. Henderson said. "She's been robbed of so many things."

It wasn't only Ms. Carpenter's children and other family members who were hurt, her mother said. The pain spread to her friends and fellow church members.

"Can you stop to imagine how many lives you've ruined - including your own?" Judge Duncan D. Wheale asked Mr. Bussey.

The judge sentenced Mr. Bussey to the mandatory sentence for felony murder, life in prison.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.