Mothers of 2 murder victims, killed 8 years apart, see killer get life with no parole

Family addresses loved one's killer before sentencing
Mothers of 2 murder victims, killed 8 years apart, see killer get life with no parole

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Life in prison, with no possibility of parole.

That's the sentence for Marzett Hawkins, a Columbus man with a long history of violence.

Thursday, Hawkins faced the heartbroken mother of the man he killed. And he faced a judge who sentenced him to die in prison.

Surveillance video captured the final moments of Kevin Walker's life, returning from the neighborhood market after picking up ingredients for family dinner.

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Prosecutors say a black car seen circling the market was Marzett Hawkins, hunting for someone to shoot.

Watkins would be the second person he shot in one day.

"He goes up to somebody's house... and then goes and shoots a gang member from a rival gang, doesn't kill him. So what does he do? He goes back, gets his car, and you have video of him, he goes out searching for someone else to shoot and kill," said Franklin County Assistant Prosecutor Jason Manning.

Hawkins has gang ties, but prosecutors say Kevin Watkins wasn't a gang member, and was in fact, a complete stranger to Hawkins.

Surveillance video shows the flash of gunfire from the driver's side of Hawkins' car.

Prosecutors say that's Hawkins ending the life of an innocent man.

"I can't express how I feel. No one will ever know my love for my son," said Watkins' mother Kathy Winfrey in court.

Winfrey says her faith compels her to forgive.

"As hard as it is, I have to forgive this young man. I have to forgive him for what he do, but I will never forget, because Kevin is my son. He took my son from me."

"I would like to express my condolences to Kevin Watkins' mother and sister and family and friends. I would like to apologize to my family for what you're experiencing right now," said Hawkins, turning to face Judge Gina Russo. "And I would just ask you, before these people here and before God, that you have compassion on my family."

But citing Hawkins' long record of violence, and the compassion he failed to show his victims, the judge showed him no mercy.

"It was such a cruel and calculated way that these offenses were carried out," said Russo, then sentencing Hawkins to life in prison plus 28 years, with no possibility of parole.

The mother of Kevin Watkins wasn't the only one seeking justice in the courtroom Thursday.

Felicia Saunders and her daughter were also there, holding a photo of her son, Anthony Sowers.

He was shot to death on August 16th, 2009.

A then-19-year-old Marzett Hawkins was charged with his murder.

But in 2011, prosecutors said they had to drop the case because witnesses refused to cooperate.

"And after I ran into the witnesses and asked them why they won't testify, is because they were afraid," Saunders said. "I kind of understood that, but then I didn't, because if they would have spoke up, we wouldn't be here today dealing with these other murders and all these other heinous crimes this young man has done to everybody."

Saunders smiled broadly when the Russo delivered Hawkins' sentence.

She and her daughter embraced.

As Hawkins was led away for the start of his sentence, Saunders showed him her son's face.

"It gives me strength, it gives me hope, and I'm glad today that I'm here," she said. "Today, I got my victory."