ELYRIA — Elliott Kirkland was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole Friday for the aggravated murder of Jimmie Holland Jr. in 2016.
A jury found Kirkland, 29, of Lorain, guilty of aggravated murder in connection with Holland’s death by after a nearly monthlong trial that began in January. Kirkland could have faced the death penalty upon being convicted; however, the jury recommended he instead be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Judge James Miraldi went along with the jury’s recommended sentence during Friday’s hearing. In addition to the life without the possibility of parole, Kirkland also was sentenced to another three years in prison for being convicted for having a firearm.
“Today’s sentence was sort of anticlimactic. When the jury made the recommendation, we expected the judge to adopt it,” Kirkland’s defense attorney Kenneth Lieux said. “There really wasn’t much choice in that matter once the jury made that determination. We respect the verdict.”
While Kirkland and his attorneys may respect the verdict, Kirkland maintains he was not the one who shot Holland.
During the trial, testimony said that three other people were involved in the plan to rob Holland, who the four people believed to be a drug dealer who carried a lot of cash.
Jasmine Schafer, Mark Sanchez and Latrice Thomas were indicted in connection with the slaying of Holland. All three reached plea agreements with prosecutors and agreed to testify against Kirkland.
Schafer and Sanchez both were called as witnesses during the trial. Thomas was not.
Testimony said the four planned to rob Holland after Kirkland asked Schafer if she knew of anyone he could rob to get some money. Schafer testified that she had a relationship with Holland and referred to him as her “sugar daddy.”
She then went to Holland’s apartment and told him she would be back later and asked him to leave the door to his apartment unlocked for her. Hours later, the four parked a vehicle near Holland’s apartment and Kirkland and Sanchez went into the apartment while Holland was sleeping.
Sanchez testified that Holland woke up when he and Kirkland entered his bedroom, a struggle ensued and Kirkland shot Holland three times. Kirkland then grabbed a Crown Royal bag filled with about $5,000 and ran from the apartment, leaving Holland bleeding on the bedroom floor, Sanchez said.
Sanchez, who testified that he was a crackhead with a $500-a-day drug habit he supported by stealing, then began cleaning out electronics and other items from the apartment to sell.
Sanchez was sentenced to 14 years in prison for his role in the crime. Schafer was sentenced to 11 years for her role. Thomas, who was charged with obstruction of justice, was sentenced to three years probation.
Lieux said Kirkland maintains it was Sanchez who shot Holland.
“He is planning to appeal. We still feel the evidence did not support that he was the shooter in the case,” Lieux said. “We acknowledge he was involved but not the shooter. The jury made that decision that he was, so I respect that, but I’m sure it’ll be part of the appeal.”
A letter from the victim’s brother, William Holland, was read at the sentencing hearing of each of the four defendants, including Kirkland’s.
In the letter, William Holland, who lives in Florida, said he was in the Lorain area to visit Jimmie Holland when the shooting occurred.
“The bad thing about this, and what make it even harder, is that I haven’t seen Jimmie for a couple years and that weekend I was here from Florida to visit him,” the letter said. “We text and talk that Thursday night talking about what we were going to do when I got there. I just wanted to see my brother again.”
Upon arrival, William Holland was unable to get in contact with his brother.
“I stayed with my best friend when I got there. I tried calling and texting my brother, but no answer,” William Holland said in the letter. “I called my family asking if they know where Jimmie live, because I didn’t have his new address. By the time I found out where he lived, it was too late.”
Jimmie Holland left behind four children, according to his brother.
“They took away a good father for money and greed,” William Holland said. “These people felt the things Jimmie had were more valuable than his life.”
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