Niara Savage atlantablackstar.com
A Louisiana man prosecutors said inflicted a “four-day streak of terror” on Baton Rouge in 2017 has been sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted of killing of two Black men.
Kenneth Gleason, 27, was convicted in April of first-degree murder in the death of one Black man killed in the four-day time span in which Gleason also allegedly killed another Black man and fired into a Black family’s home.
Gleason received a mandatory life sentence on Monday, but state District Judge Beau Higginbotham said the “appropriate sentence” would have been the death penalty.
“There’s nothing the penal system can do to rehabilitate you, Mr. Gleason,” Higginbotham said, The Advocate reported.
On Sept. 11, 2017, Gleason fired three shots into a Black family’s home in Hickory Ridge. Two teenagers were in the home, although no one was injured.
A few days later, 59-year-old Bruce Cofield, a homeless Black man, was shot and killed near a bus station. Two days later, 49-year-old Donald Smart was gunned down while walking to his job at a restaurant. In both killings, Gleason is accused of initially firing from his car before standing over the victim and during more bullets in both cases.
Phone records placed Gleason in proximity of all three shootings, as did video evidence of his car. DNA was also found on shell casings at the scenes of the crimes. Gleason was detained on Sept. 16 and booked three days later.
Gleason was found guilty in April of murdering Smart, after a jury previously found that he was guilty of murdering Cofield. After consulting with Smart’s family, prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty.
Gleason wasn’t charged with a hate crime although an FBI agent testified at the trial that in the days leading up to and during the killings, he had searched the internet for topics like White nationalism, genocide and Nazi propaganda.
Assistant District Attorney Michelle Fulton noted earlier this year that all of Gleason’s victims were Black. “The timing of these searches is very important,” she said.
Prosecutor Dana Cummings has described Gleason as “hunting black men.”
Gleason did not speak at the sentencing but previously said he was not guilty of the crime he’d been accused of.
“It is telling that in spite of the overwhelming evidence presented at trial, Kenneth Gleason still refuses to take responsibility for his actions and expressed no remorse for these senseless murders and hateful crimes of violence,” said East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III.
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