A Bainbridge man will face up to 30 years behind bars in connection with the shooting death of Chris Strickland at a mobile home park last July.
In a bench trial held earlier this summer, William Leroy Wimberly of Bainbridge was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Superior Court Chief Judge A. Wallace Cato sentenced Wimberly to a life sentence in the Georgia prison system for the murder conviction, plus an additional 5 years on a conviction for possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Wimberly’s attorney, Trey McClendon, requested his client be eligible to be released on bond while an appeal is prepared. Judge Cato denied bond for Wimberly, but did accept a request to allow Wimberly to remain at the Decatur County Jail until McClendon files a formal request for a new trial.
McClendon, the defense attorney, gave a brief argument asking for Judge Cato to consider a sentence of life with the possibility of parole, rather than a life sentence without parole. McClendon acknowledged Wimberly was in a fight with Chris Strickland and his brother Josh, but according to the defense attorney, there was not much evidence presented during Wimberly’s trial to say he was the one who caused the gun to go off. Wimberly was also shot during the struggle and was hospitalized for several days.
Wimberly had been accused of returning to the Shady Acres Mobile Home Park with a gun after being kicked out of the Stricklands’ residence just minutes before. To read more about the case, see “Man charged in shooting at mobile home park.”
Victim’s father, son appear before judge
Chris Strickland was 31 when he passed away. Among the many family members he left behind were his father, Larry Strickland, and his 10-year-old son, Kendall Strickland, both of whom were present in the courtroom for the sentencing hearing. Chris Strickland also left behind an eight-year-old daughter, Mackenzie.
Larry Strickland was allowed to tell Judge Cato the impact Chris Strickland’s passing has had on his family.
“[Chris] was a good kid with a big heart,” his father said. “It’s tough to think we will never get to spend another Christmas with him, and that he won’t be around to see his son play football. It’s just not fair.”
Strickland said that after initially being angry with Wimberly, the father forgave Wimberly and said he prayed for mercy.
Larry Strickland talked about trying his best to be a father figure for his grandson, but said both he and his grandson remained very emotional about Chris’ death.
“There’s certain songs that come on the radio, that remind Kendall of his dad and he just starts crying,” Larry Strickland said.