JACKSON, Miss. —
Stanley Cole was sentenced to life in prison Monday for the 2007 murder of his ex-girlfriend, Latasha Norman. A Hinds County jury took just two hours to convict Cole.
Police said Cole led them to Norman’s body more than two weeks after she disappeared from the Jackson State University campus. Cole confessed to killing Norman, but his lawyer argued the woman’s death was an accident.
“The defendant confessed to this crime. It took him awhile. It took about two weeks, but he finally got there,” Hinds County Assistant District Attorney Shaun Yurtkuran said in his closing argument.
Yurtkuran told the jury that Cole was caught in a series of lies, which he said was supported by testimony during the trial.
“Nobody is proud that Latasha is gone — nobody. Nobody is happy that she’s gone. Nobody — especially not Stanley and especially not her family,” Public Defender Bill LaBarre said in his closing argument. “Even though he didn’t testify, you’ve got plenty of his words: ‘I know I was wrong. I wasn’t thinking straight. I want to say that I was sorry. I know I was wrong for taking her life. I wasn’t trying to though.’ Those were his words. Nobody told him to say that.”
Assistant Public Defender Matt Eichelberger told the jury that Cole and Norman had a violent relationship. But he said, Cole loved Norman and asked the jury to read letters Cole wrote to her as evidence.
Eichelberger asked the jury to put their emotions aside and consider the law to reach a verdict.
“Latasha Norman was described as a young, bright, African American woman who was going to school to reach her dreams. And because (Cole) couldn’t control her, he had to kill her,” Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith said in his closing argument. “What’s love got to do with it — nothing. It’s hate. He acted with a depraved heart — not love.”
The jury will not consider a culpable negligence manslaughter charge, Hinds Circuit Judge Swan Yerger ruled Monday. The defense wanted the jury to consider a manslaughter charge instead of murder, because it would have carried a much lighter sentence.
Yerger said there was no evidence to support the defense argument that Norman’s death was from a blow to the head. A medical examiner testified last week that Norman died from a stab wound to the chest.
During deliberations, the jury asked for a definition of manslaughter and the jurors were told that it was not an issue for them to consider.
Testimony began Wednesday and wrapped up Friday.
Cole could be sentenced to life in prison.