CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Shawn Thomas Lester, the man originally charged with three sniper-style slayings outside Kanawha County convenience stores in 2003, was sentenced Friday to 40 years in prison for his role in one of the killings.
Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom handed down the sentence Friday. The 40 years are the maximum Lester could have received after he pleaded guilty in late July to second-degree murder in the death of Jeanie Patton. Prosecutors recommended a 30-year sentence as part of the plea agreement with Lester.
"There isn't nothing I can say that can make this better," Lester said before he was sentenced Friday morning. "I hope that, after today, everyone can get a little closure on this case."
Last year, a grand jury indicted Lester on three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Patton, Gary Carrier Jr., and Okey Meadows Jr., who were killed by a bullet from a Marlin .22-Magnum caliber rifle.
Prosecutors dropped the charges connected to Carrier and Meadows when Lester agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in Patton's death.
Despite the plea, investigators and prosecutors have maintained publicly that Lester killed all three victims. They have said Patton and Carrier were killed in retaliation for the theft of a drug-laden engine block that Lester was hiding in his Rutledge Road garage, which was a front for a multimillion-dollar drug enterprise controlled by members of the Mexican mafia.
Authorities say Patton's husband, Marty Walker, conspired with Carrier to steal the engine block, which contained hundreds of thousands of dollars in street value of rare, pink methamphetamine. (Walker and Patton were not officially married, but friends and family referred to them as husband and wife.)
Police say Lester shot and killed Meadows at random, to throw off the investigation. He was shot on the night of Aug. 14, 2003, outside a Go-Mart in Cedar Grove. Patton was killed outside a Speedway in Campbells Creek earlier that night. Carrier was shot outside a Go-Mart on Bigley Avenue in Charleston four days before.
During Friday's hearing, family members of the three victims pleaded with the judge to give Lester the maximum sentence.
"I can't tell you how much I miss her, and I can't tell you how badly it hurts to know she's not coming back," said Karen Mance, Patton's sister. "Shawn is a monster who has no remorse."