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Published: Friday, 4/1/2005

Killer gets life sentence

Lamonte Hopings is led out of Lucas County Common Pleas Court after being sentenced. Lamonte Hopings is led out of Lucas County Common Pleas Court after being sentenced.

A Toledo man whose claim of self-defense in the killing of Robert Badgett was rejected by a jury was sentenced yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to life in prison.

Judge Ruth Ann Franks, who presided over the four-day trial of Lamonte Hopings last week, imposed the mandatory sentence for murder and ordered an additional three-year sentence for using a gun in the crime.

He will be eligible for parole in 18 years.

A jury found Hopings, 28, of Coventry Avenue, guilty March 24 in the shooting death of Robert Badgett outside a duplex at 3102 Parkwood Ave., where the victim's 15-year-old nephew lived.

Hopings, who lived in the lower unit with his mother, testified that he was in fear of his life and the lives of family members who had gathered on May 19 for a cook out. He claimed Badgett, 24, had made threats and was drawing a gun when the shooting occurred.

Badgett, who lived around the corner at 554 West Central Ave., went to the home in defense of his nephew who had exchanged words earlier with Hopings and others about a break-in that occurred in the upper unit where the nephew lived with his mother.

Judge Franks said the evidence and testimony of witnesses that jurors heard was contrary to the accounts of the defendant and his family members, who also testified. "You took a man's life because you could," she said.

Judge Franks also took exception to the defendant's testimony that he had one felony conviction in 1998 for possession of cocaine. He actually had been prosecuted for two other felonies and five misdemeanors crimes as an adult and three felonies and four misdemeanors as a juvenile.

Jennifer Donovan, an assistant prosecutor who tried the case, said Hopings was not only untruthful, but he also was inconsistent with the testimony of others who tried to corroborate the self-defense argument.

"It was an absolutely senseless act," Ms. Donovan said.

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