When a judge on the state’s second-highest court sentenced Joe Judge to life in prison on Friday, he said he didn’t believe his crimes would get him out.
The court ruled that Judge Clay Jenkins should serve 10 to 25 years in prison for his role in the 2011 murder of his former girlfriend.
Judge Jenkins, 51, was convicted of two counts of murder, but only one of the charges — the one that led to the indictment — was ultimately proven true.
The other, aggravated assault, was not.
Jenkins was sentenced to life without parole for his part in the killing of his ex-girlfriend, Sarah Hightower, in the spring of 2011.
Jenkins had admitted to killing Hightowers, but argued at trial that the killings were an accident.
“I just went through a bad period,” he said.
Jenkins is one of more than 300 defendants convicted of murder or attempted murder in Georgia over the past decade.
Jenkins’s attorneys said in court Friday that the sentence will be reviewed by a Georgia Supreme Court justice and will likely be upheld.
“This is a tough decision,” said Joe Jenkins attorney, Kevin Brown, who was present for the sentencing.
“There is no doubt that Joe is a man of character and he is a wonderful human being.
This is a difficult decision.”
Brown said Jenkins has a long record of representing low-level defendants and that he has not shown remorse for his actions.
“He’s not going to show remorse,” Brown said.
“His whole life is dedicated to doing what he did, to doing the right thing.”
Brown also said he believes the sentence was appropriate given the nature of Jenkins’s crimes.
“The judge was given a very difficult decision.
It was a tough case, but it was a difficult sentence,” Brown told reporters outside the courthouse.
The murder of Hightows was one of three murders in Georgia in which a defendant was found guilty of murder but not guilty of attempted murder.
In addition to the sentence handed down by Judge Jenkins’s court-appointed attorney, Georgia’s highest court also handed down a life sentence to Joshua David Williams, who pleaded guilty in 2013 to killing his former wife, Trish Ann Williams, in her home in the Spring Creek neighborhood.
The state Supreme Court ordered that Williams serve at least 25 years before being eligible for parole.
Williams was sentenced in 2015 to life plus 20 years in a Georgia prison.
The remaining murder charges against him were dropped after he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder.
Williams also was sentenced for his roles in the attempted killing of former state Rep. Jeff Stone in 2010 and the death of his brother, who had recently been arrested for alleged crimes related to drug distribution.
Stone was killed in 2009 when he was shot in the head while riding a bicycle.
The former state representative’s death sparked nationwide protests.
The Georgia Supreme Courts decision also overturned a murder conviction against former state Sen. Paul Stokes, who is serving a life term for shooting and killing his wife in 2010.
The Stokes family said in a statement Friday that they were “deeply saddened and disappointed” by the ruling.